February 21, 2018

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.

Lift Your Head, Weary Sinner


Lift your head, weary sinner, the river’s just ahead
Down the path of forgiveness salvation’s waiting there
You built a mighty fortress 10,000 burdens high
Love is here to lift you up, here to lift you high

If you’re lost and wandering
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child
See the walls start crumbling
Let the gates of glory open wide

All who’ve strayed and walked away, unspeakable things you’ve done
Fix your eyes on the mountain, let the past be dead and gone
Come, all saints and sinners, you can’t outrun God
Whatever you’ve done can’t overcome the power of the Blood

If you’re lost and wrecked again
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child
See the walls start crumbling
Let the gates of glory be open wide

David Crowder Band
Songwriters: Ed Cash, David Crowder, Seth Philpott

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One thing that we try to teach our children is that you always walk with your head held high.  Be proud of who you are.  We also teach them that there will be times in life when our actions or choices make this hard.  We will be weighed down by the impact of something we’ve said or done…and we can’t hold up our heads.  We feel as if the stares and whispers of others are directed at us.  We feel shame and guilt for something we are responsible for.  The first line of this song always grabs me… “Lift your head, weary sinner”… Maybe we’re not even aware that we are living life with our head down OR maybe it’s painfully obvious.

This song refers to the prodigal son, a situation we each have been familiar with at one point in time.  We have all been the prodigal daughter, and we all need to hear these words from time to time… “Lift your head, weary sinner”…  And I also try to remember the words of Romans 8:38-39:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When we seek forgiveness and when our eyes are fixed on God, nothing can stand between us and Him.  His “gates of glory [are] opened wide“.

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Let’s Pray: Lord, there are times when we feel that we have turned so far away from You that it may seem as if we cannot turn back.  But Lord, through this song and through Your Word, you have reminded us that nothing can separate us from Your love.  Thank You for this.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

All Eyes On You

Everything else fades away
When You step on the scene
In my heart take center stage
And I’ll follow Your lead

Yeah let me step aside
And put Your name in lights
Headline this life

All eyes on You
In everything I do
Everywhere I move
Let Your love shine through
So all the world can see
You’ve taken over me
Let me be a reflection of Your truth (and turn) 
All eyes on You

You burn brighter than a million stars
And nothing can compare
Let me shadow who You are
Every second and everywhere

Yeah I was blind but now I see
You gave it all to set me free
So everyday till my time is gone
I’ll live my life turning eyes on

No matter where I am
No matter who I’m with
With everything I do let it point to You

~  Zach, Jacob, and Nich Oswald

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I have been offering support to the families of hospice patients for almost six years now.  I have been blessed to witness many stories, struggles, and victories over the years.  Through everything I’ve heard, there has been one general thought that continues to present itself.  This thought surrounds the loss of direction, a loss of focus.  We tend to not know where to look or turn, if even for an instant, when something unexpected occurs.  Not just in grief, but also in fear, in sadness, in anger, we tend to lose focus on where we need to be looking—on Who we need to be looking at.   This song states perfectly Who we do, in fact, need to be focusing on—“All eyes on You…”.

In everything, we need to be focusing on and walking towards and planting our hearts and minds on one thing…on one Person, God.  The Bible states numerous times that He is our Strength, our Refuge, our Fortress, our sense of Strength.  And when we focus on Him during those unexpected times, as well as during the good times, really during all times, we will never lose focus.  We will never feel lost, and we will be an example to those around us to do the same.

Ladies, remember today to keep all eyes on Him, in everything we say and in everything we do.

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Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You are the only direction we need, when we need to know where to go.  You are the beacon of Light for us and for the world.  Your love guides us when it seems as if nothing else will.  Thank You for that love that shines through our darkest times.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.



No one ever told me this would be easy
But I never knew that it could be this hard
Oh, the worry, the worry, the worry is weighing on me
Could you help me break down all these question marks
And make me

Brave…I’ll fight like a soldier
Brave…Rise like a warrior
Brave…Won’t stop ’til the final day
Brave…I want to be stronger
Brave…Going to be bolder
Brave…Look up and I see the way
You make me brave

I know, I know I’m no superwoman
But impossible is possible with You
So no, no, no more running, no more hiding
Strike the fire so I’ll be fearless too
And make me

None go with me
Still I’ll follow
Through the joy and
Through the sorrow
Cross before me
World behind me
There’s no turning back

Moriah Peters
Written along with: Matt Bronleewe, Joel Smallbone

Lyrics to I Have Decided To Follow Jesus – S. Sundar Singh

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I’m always telling my kids that they can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens them…and that nothing is impossible with God…and that He is always in control.  But I wonder if I believe that myself.

Do I believe that I can do anything with God on my side?  Or do I tend to run and hide?  Doubt and avoid?  I think we can all relate to the words of this song; we want to be stronger, braver, bolder… We want to be so many things that we feel we aren’t.  I see this song as an anthem, as a reminder from our Heavenly Father that through Him we can do anything.  Remember that impossible is possible with Him.

I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 NKJV

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Lord, we often forget that with You anything is possible.  That with You we can accomplish anything.  Thank You for the reminder through this song that we can be brave.  Despite what we are facing we can move forward with You on our side.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Speak Life


Some days, life feels perfect
Other days it just ain’t workin
The good, the bad, the right, the wrong
And everything in between
Though it’s crazy, amazing
We can turn a heart with the words we say
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die

So speak Life, speak Life
To the deadest darkest night
Speak life, speak Life
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak
You speak Life, (oh oh oh oh oh oh)
You speak Life. (oh oh oh oh oh oh)

Some days the tongue gets twisted
Other days my thoughts just fall apart
I do, I don’t, I will, I won’t
It’s like I’m drowning in the deep
Well it’s crazy to imagine
Words from our lips as the arms of compassion
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die

Lift your head a little higher
Spread the love like fire
Hope will fall like rain
When you speak life with the words you say
Raise your thoughts a little higher
Use your words to inspire
Joy will fall like rain
When you speak life with the things you say

…Some days life feels perfect


Toby Mac
written along with Jamie Moore, Ryan Stevenson

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The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
Proverbs 18:21

It still amazes me when I think of the reality of this verse…and the power we hold in our words.  We are given a choice each day to speak life, or speak death.  We can uplift, or we can tear down.  I try to teach my kids often the importance of this lesson.  Whether in school or at home, I want them to know that their words carry a significant amount of weight.  We, as adults, need to remember this as well.

In the heat of the moment, we can choose to use our words as weapons or as blessings.  By remembering that our words will make an impact even after they are long since spoken may help us to remember to consider them more carefully.  As the words of this song remind us, despite our situation, despite how we may feel, we need to remember to choose to speak life with our words—life for ourselves and life for others.

What do your words mean to you?  What do they mean to others?

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Dear Heavenly Father, teach us to consider our words more carefully than we have been.  Remind us to speak life when we are tempted to do otherwise.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

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.