October 9, 2015

About Tonya Ellison

Tonya Ellison — Blog Contributor
Tonya comes to us from Rio Rancho, New Mexico where she lives with her four favorite people, three kids ages 4, 6, and 9, and her husband of seven years, Jamel. Her hobbies include writing and reading, crocheting, and spending time with her family. She earned her BS in Human Services/Management and works as a Bereavement Counselor.

Just Be Held


Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the Cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

Casting Crowns
Songwriters: John Mark Hall, Bernie Herms, Matthew West

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I talk to people about life on a regular basis, and most times those conversations revolve around the times when life is not so great.  Life gets overwhelming, it gets busy, it gets hard.  And we find ourselves in a place where we may not feel as strong as we would like.

I have heard the verse, “Be still and know that I am God”(Psalm 46:10) used time and time again.  But I have asked myself <and God>: “What are we are supposed to be doing while we are being still.”  This song answers that question—we are supposed to just be held.  We are supposed to let ourselves be wrapped in God’s love and find rest.  We are supposed to remind ourselves that we don’t have to keep trying to hold on. Like the song says, He is on the throne holding our lives together, and He will hold us.

I urge you to take comfort in these words….

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place;
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held….  

Ladies, remember Who is holding you, remember Who sits on the throne.

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Dear Heavenly Father, we cannot hold our world alone…life gets too much to handle at times, but it is never too much for You to handle.  Thank You for holding us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.



Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart

And seek You
I wanna seek You
I wanna seek You
I wanna keep You
I wanna keep You
More than anything I want
I want You


Before I speak a word
Let me hear Your voice
And in the midst of pain
Let me feel Your joy
Ooh, I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I speak a word
I will bring my heart

You are my treasure and my reward
Let nothing ever come before
You are my treasure and my reward
Let nothing ever come before
I seek You

Lauren Daigle

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First.  You know this is one of the most taught-on subjects in the church.  It is something we’ve heard said—and have said ourselves—all of our lives.  But for some reason it is one of the most difficult things to do.

Seek God first.  

We get our coffee first….we scan facebook first…watch the news first…pour our heart out to a friend first—all before seeking God.  I am very guilty of this.  I make excuses saying that I have no time, no energy, I can take care of it myself….  But the One I need to be putting first is often an afterthought when the situation or circumstance becomes too big or when the pain is too strong.  The sweet, simple words of this song remind us that before everything we put Him first.

In every season, in every moment…” Ladies, this week let us make an intentional effort to put God first.  Let us seek Him in every season and every moment.  Let Him be our first line of defense.

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Let’s pray: Lord, how refreshing it is to know that You are our ‘first’.  Before we have to worry about what to say or how to say it…before we worry about what we’re going to do…You are always here for us to look to for guidance. Lord, please forgive us if we have neglected this.  Forgive us for looking to ourselves rather than to You.  Thank You for still remaining.  Lord, we will seek You first!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


It’s okay
To not be okay
This is a safe place
This is a safe place
Don’t be afraid
Don’t be ashamed
There’s still hope here
There’s still hope
No matter what you’ve done
Or who you are
Everyone is welcome
In His arms

Just let go
Let His love wrap around you
And hold you close
Get lost in the surrender
Breathe it in, until your heart breaks
And exhale, exhale

Spirit come
Tear down the walls
That only you can
That only you can
Reconcile, this heart to yours
Right now God, right now

Oh God
We breathe in your grace
We breathe in your grace
And exhale
Oh God
We do not exist for us
But to share your grace and love
And exhale

Writer(s): Tiffany Lee, Matt Armstrong, Josh Silverberg

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I was working with a young mother who was grieving the loss of her father and, like many other clients of mine, the first thing I told her was “It’s okay to not be okay!”  

{This is something we have to remind ourselves of from time to time as well.}  

As moms and wives…women in general…we often feel as if we need to hold it  together for all those around us.  And that we can’t show any sign of weakness.  But there are times when we need to surrender, to just be, and as the words of this song says, there are times when we just need to let His love wrap around us and make us whole again.  We don’t have to act as if nothing is wrong, or as if we have everything under control—because we don’t and that is okay.

Ladies, remind yourself that it’s okay to not be okay.  When we fall short, God will always be there to wrap His arms around us.

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Let’s prayDear Loving Father,  You are our safe place.  In You and with You we know that it is okay to feel as if we cannot hold it together.  Thank You. Remind us, Lord, to seek You when life is not okay and when life is okay.  Remind us to seek You always and to let You make us whole.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Cast My Cares


When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steal my breath away
When my back’s pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

This war’s not what I would’ve chosen
But You see the future no one knows yet
And there’s still good when I can’t
See the working of Your hands
You’re holding it all

I’m finding there’s freedom
When I lay it all on Your shoulders
Cast my cares I will
Cast my cares I will
Cast my cares on You 

Finding Favour
Writers: Blake NeeSmith, Casy Brown, Sam Tinnesz

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My word for this morning is comfort.  As I sit in my home, I can feel a crispness in the air.  Fall is around the corner.  I hear my husband and children sleeping. The dogs are beginning to stir.  Soon lunch boxes will be packed, clothes will be ironed, to-do lists will grow, and life will return to its normal pace.

But for now, I focus on the word comfort.  Today I will take comfort in knowing that—

  • whatever I face when this song ends has already been handled
  • as my family goes to work and school that God has a hedge of protection around us
  • God has already worked out the many concerns running through my head
  • every situation we face has been worked out for our good and will only prove to be another example of God’s love for us
  • I am never walking alone

This morning, ladies, as you take each step, you can take comfort in the knowledge that there is Someone we can cast our cares upon. Our Heavenly Father wants us to shed the worry from our lives and place it at the foot of the Cross.  He is in control and He is our peace. Today, cast your cares.  Take comfort in the words of this song, and in these words.

 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

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Lord, today we want to make an intentional effort to cast our cares upon You.  There is so much in life that we are not in control of; but You, Lord, You are in control of all.  Thank You for taking our worry and anxiety from us.  Thank You for being the place where we cast our cares.  You replace worry with peace.  You replace fear with love.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Do Something


I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “Somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill (shine, shine, shine, shine)
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No, we won’t stand still
No, we won’t stand still
No, we won’t stand still 

Singer/Songwriter: Matthew West
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This song seems more relevant in today’s society than ever before.  You cannot turn on the news, get on Facebook, or even have a conversation with a friend without hearing about something negative.  I know that as Christians we are called to make a difference, but there are times in our lives when we do not know what that difference is.  We don’t know exactly what we’re supposed to be doing in this troubled world.  
I’ve often asked God “What am I supposed to do?”  This song answers that question for all of us; we need to do something.  Whether it is large or small in our eyes, we need to step forward and do something.  Whether it be our home, our job, in the community, in the church—we all have a place.  And I’ve learned that there is no place that is more important than the other.
Dear ladies, please take the words of this song to heart.  We have been tasked with, we have been blessed with the opportunity to make a difference—a difference that will give glory to God.  It is easy to become discouraged and feel as if we are such a small part of life…how could we make an impact?  But we have to remember that we have a power behind us that is unmatched.  God is our strength.  
Next time you think about the difference you were called to make, take time to pray.  Connect with the One who gave you the task in the first place.  He will give you clarity and direction.  We are His hands and feet and we are called to do something.
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Dear Heavenly Father, the idea of stepping out and doing something can be daunting.  We are Your hands and feet, but sometimes we don’t know what that is supposed to look like.  Thank You for Your guidance and direction. Thank You for trusting us to do something.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Washed by the Water


Daddy was a preacher
She was his wife
Just trying to make the world a little better
You know, shine a light

People started talking
Trying to hear their own voice
Those people tried to accuse my father
Said he made the wrong choice

Though it might be painful
You know that time will always tell
Those people have long since gone
My father never failed

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Even if the earth crumbles under my feet
Even if the ones I love turn around and crucify me
I won’t never ever let You down
I won’t fall, I won’t fall, I won’t fall
As long as You’re around me

William Rinehart, Nathaniel Rinehart

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School started in our home last week with three little ones off to learn and grow.  I try to find teachable moments with my children that will help them face the trials and lessons that come in elementary and middle school—and there are more than I would like to count.  Daily it seems as if the kids come home with a story of a situation (not always involving them) that they have knowledge of.  Because of the amount of negative stuff around them I always try to teach them that God is always with us.  And that He never leaves us. But, driving to work listening to this song, I realized that this is not just a lesson for my kids…it is a lesson for all of us.

Whether we work inside the home, outside of the home, are retired, or whatever situation we find ourselves in, we are surrounded with an overwhelming amount of stuff, that we need to be reminded that ‘even when the rain falls, even when the flood starts rising, even when the storm comes, I am washed by the water’.  And that despite how overwhelmed we may feel, that we will never fail as long as God is on our side.

So as I remind my kids (and as I remind myself, and as I remind you):

  • despite what the world may look like
  • despite who is talking to hear themselves talk
  • despite the attempts Satan makes to stop us…

God is on our side.   He is our strength.   He is our Living Water.

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Dear Heavenly Father, You are our Strength and You are the Living Water, with You we can never fail.  The world may try to tell us one thing but Your promises tell us another.  Let us take comfort in You and in Your Word.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

More Than You Think I Am


You always think I’m somewhere on a mountaintop
But never think behind bars
You’d be amazed the places that I go
To be with you, where you are

So forget what you’ve heard
What you think that you know
There’s a lot about Me
That’s never been told

I’m more than you dream
More than you understand
Your days and your times
Were destined for our dance
I catch all your tears
Burn your name on My heart
Be still and trust My plan
I’m more than you think I am
More than you think I am

Rumor has it there’s a gavel in My hand
I’m only here to condemn
But let Me tell you secrets you have never known
I think of you as My best friend

So much has been said
Even done in My name
But I’m showing you now
Who I really am

Let me open your eyes to see
The heart of Me, differently oh oh
Come closer than you’ve ever been
Let Me in like never before
Bring Me every broken part
The wounds and scars of who you are
Hide in Me and you will see

Danny Gokey
written along with Bernie Herms and Tim Nichols

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I am amazed when I think of how much we limit God.  How often we fit him into a small description and doubt the extent of His love for us.

I first heard this song several weeks ago and the words truck my heart.  What we think of Him is not what He is, it’s not who He is.  We place Him on a mountain far away, we make Him out to be a judgmental character waiting to catch us in a mistake.  When in reality He is here, next to us, mirroring our steps; wanting and waiting to love us.  Wanting us to take everything to Him, every fear, every worry, and every moment of joy.  Big or little, He wants it. Let the words of this song warm your heart; remember that He is more than we think He is, He is bigger than we think He is.  He loves harder and stronger than we think He does.  He is everywhere.  He knows everything and, despite that, He wants us.  Wants us to trust Him and draw near to Him.  He is more than society tells us He is and He is more then we feel He is at times.

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Dear Lord, thank You for being the more we need.  Thank You for giving us more credit than we give You.  Thank You for forgiving us for placing limitations on You.  Remind us daily that You are more, You are the more we need in our lives.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Beauty For Ashes


I thought I would not make it
My mind, my strength, was gone
Everything in my life came crashing down
I felt so all alone

Now I’m lookin’ at my life in broken pieces
Oh, what, will I do now
I want to trust You but I just don’t know how
And right before I threw in the towel

God turned it
And gave me
Beauty, for ashes

My storm would not move on
My nights, they lasted so long
There was, no sign of my morning
I wanted to give up

But You wouldn’t let me be
You came and set me free
I came to You with my pain
And we made an exchange

God turned it
And gave me
Beauty, for ashes
He turned it and gave me
Beauty for ashes
God turned it
And gave me
Beauty for ashes

The worst thing in my whole life
Became the most beautiful thing

The most embarrassing thing that brought so much shame
Became the most beautiful thing

And like a baby that’s born, all the pain and dirt
Became the most beautiful thing

For, He turned it

 Tye Tribbett

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…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

I heard a saying yesterday, “When life fights, it doesn’t fight fair…”; how true is this?  Things often happen that we do not expect.  We fall, we fail; and at times we look around and see only ashes.  Ashes of relationships, of friendships, of hopes and dreams.  Life can be ugly.  But God… Despite the ugliness that life can bring, the beauty that God brings overshadows it all.  The love and restoration that God brings changes our ashes into something wonderful.  When we feel we have nothing left and our fight is gone, He is in our corner shaping our lives, directing our paths.  We don’t always see it in the moment.  But take a minute and look back. Look at your storms, your difficult times. How did God turn it around, how did He orchestrate the situation to raise you up and show His power and love…?  You may be going through a situation now, there may be a storm raging, but take rest in the fact that God is working.  Take rest in the fact that God will turn your ashes into something beautiful.

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Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for doing something no other can do.  Life is full of ashes and only You can turn them into something beautiful.  We take peace in your words.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sinking Deep


Standing here in Your presence
In a grace so relentless
I am won
By perfect love

Wrapped within the arms of heaven
In a peace that lasts forever
Sinking deep
In mercy’s sea

I’m wide awake
Drawing close
Stirred by grace
All my heart is Yours
All fear removed
I breathe You in
I lean into Your love
Your love

When I’m lost You pursue me
Lift my head to see Your glory
Lord of all
So beautiful

Here in You I find shelter
Captivated by the splendor
Of Your face
My secret place

Your love so deep
Is washing over me
Your face is all I seek
You are my everything

Jesus Christ
You are my one desire
Lord, hear my only cry
To know You all my life

Hillsong Young & Free
Songwriters: Joel Davies and Aodhan King

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(We had the opportunity to see this wonderful group in concert a couple of months ago; the experience was awesome.)  I was working on some things this morning, and felt unrest start to creep in.  Peace is something that has been on the top of my priority list for the last year.  It seems that the more I sought it…and removed things from my life that threatened our peace…the more attacks we felt.  So this morning, when I began to feel unsettled, I started searching for songs…music has a way of reaching areas of the heart that other things can’t.  This song not only creates a sense of peace with the relaxing music, quiet strength, but the words penetrate the difficult place you may find yourself in.  Knowing that we can bask in His love and grace and that He removes all fear and replaces it with peace and His overwhelming love.

Take time this morning to rest in Him.
Rest in His love, mercy and grace.

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Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the artists who create these beautiful songs. Songs that remind us of how deeply You love us. Songs that remind us of Your grace and mercy. Lord, I pray that today You wrap Your arms around us, and that we remember You are always near. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.

If We Are The Body


It’s crowded in worship today
As she slips in trying to fade into the faces
The girls teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know

But if we are the Body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way, there is a way

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ

Casting Crowns
Writers: Mark Hall, John Mark Hall

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Now you are the Body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27

I often wonder about this topic…. I wonder what my part is in the Body of Christ, and I know others wonder as well.  Knowing we are part of the Body is not the concern—instead I struggle at times to know my place.  We have a membership event at our church on Sunday; we have been going to this church for three years but have never ‘officially’ joined.  One requirement for joining this church is picking a ministry to work with. My question leading up to Sunday has been, “Where am I supposed to be? Where in the body of Christ can I glorify Him to the fullest?”

This song offers only two examples of hurting people.  There are so many more, so many that need support, and so many that need to be lifted up. We are His hands, we are His feet, we are His Body. Whatever capacity it may be in, this is how we need to approach the situation. I will continue to pray for direction when it comes to where I need to be…and I will also pray that you find your place if you haven’t.

There is so much work that needs to be done for the Kingdom of God,
and it is going to take each and every one of us to do it.

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Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You give direction and guidance to all of those searching for a place in Your body.  There is so much to be done and, as You said in 1 Corinthians 12:27, each one of us are a part of it.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.