A Personal Letter

Dear Friends,

Today I offer a personal letter – and a confession of sorts – to those of you who know me and also to those of you I have never met, but take the time to read my blog.

Thank you!

I find myself in a somewhat dark season right now, a time when I feel like I am going nowhere and unable to accomplish much.

Even writing a blog feels difficult. I find myself posting less and the blogs I do write feel hollow. My mind feels like it’s stuck in neutral and has been for over 8 months.

That’s when my life took a “detour” with my 89-year-old mom moving in with us. Immediately the pace of my life slowed down. I no longer had the freedom to come and go as I pleased or to do much outside the home, except for those activities that could be done with a person in late stage Alzheimer’s.

My greatest challenged morphed into how to find contentment in these circumstances –  In doing the same things all day long, day after day.  In trying to be interested in the same limited, circular conversations.  In serving my mother even in the most simplest of tasks.  In maintaining the simplest of schedules in order to accommodate her needs.  In continually having to answer the same questions.  In keeping her safe while allowing for her need to be independent.

I consider myself pretty tough. Resilient. I am a Finn with SISU.

I have learned how to meet major challenges and to rise up when I have fallen, but God is teaching me a different kind of resiliency  — that of seeking His peace and His light in the midst of what feels like a dark season.

Micah, the minor prophet seems to speak of both kinds of resiliency in this verse: “ When I fall I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” (Micah 7:8)  

Now to be sure, I am not saying that my mother has ushered in darkness.

I love my mom and I consider it a blessing to be able to spend this time with her. At times my heart even floods with joy. At other times I am overcome with compassion as I watch her struggle to find her words and her equilibrium.  I see her embarrassment when the china cup she drops shatters into pieces on the floor; when the food on her fork can’t find way into her mouth; when she quietly changes out of her urine soaked clothing hoping no one will notice.

The “darkness” that invades me is less about my mom and more about where God has parked me right now. I personally feel like I am in a holding pattern in which I am doing a lot of waiting. I miss my friends and co-workers. I even miss sitting in meetings to solve problems. I miss seeing the students all day at school. I miss the pleasure that results in reaching higher accomplishments. I miss doing things with my children and grandchildren whenever I please. I miss going out with my husband without having to plan ahead.

But I know that God is working in my heart as I wait in this parked position and I see that it involves a different kind of accomplishment from what I am accustomed to. 

I am discovering that resiliency comes not just from facing and overcoming the challenges of life. It also rises up out of learning to be wholly present in whatever circumstances God calls me to – even the unexciting ones.  Pastor Peter Dusan, who happens to also be my son-in-law, challenged us from the pulpit this Sunday by this question:  “What is a discomfort in your life right now? Rather than run away, or just get through it, how can this discomfort be used to grow and strengthen you?”   

I confess that in some ways, I have been trying to run away and merely get through this season with my mom rather than being wholly present with her.  She still wants to connect and to have purpose. In my desire to get on with life as I know it, it’s easy to overlook opportunities to extend her value and honor and connect with her while it’s still possible.  I can also fail to recognize how God desires to grow and strengthen me in the midst of this particular season.

In today’s reading in My Utmost for His Highest, these words stood out to me:

Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him.”

Just wait upon God and be grounded in Him.  That’s what I am learning to do.

Would you pray for me, that my heart will be content to serve my mom for as long as God calls me to it – that I would remain faithful to His will?

Would you pray that I embrace how I am to grow right where He has placed me?

I feel a sense of connection with you, my readers, and I value your insights.  I wish you the best in 2017.

NOTE: If you get a message that my website is unsafe, I encourage you to ignore it.  A number of months ago, I had a problem with malware but my hosting agency (Site5) cleaned it up and I signed up for their protection services.  They assure me that my website is safe.







  1. Beautiful.

    But you need not worry (too much anyway), for it is not you, but “it is God which worketh in you both to WILL and to DO of his good pleasure. (Php 2:13)

    P.S. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has an excellent series on Spiritual Depression. In fact, all his sermons are excellent. I highly recommend. http://www.mljtrust.org/collections/spiritual-depression/

    • Thank you for the link -sounds like a very helpful and encouraging resource!

  2. Loved hearing your heart, Ellen! I will be praying for you, your family, and your mom as you learn to be with God during this time in your life. Love you much!!

    • Thank you Carly! Miss you. Ellen

  3. You have been such s blessing to your mom and such a Christlike example. We pray daily for you dear sister. Love you, Debi

    • Your “sisterhood” makes a huge difference in this journey!

  4. Sweet Ellen your words and feelings mirror those I felt but was so afraid to say out loud when I was going through this season with my mom. It’s a constant tug on your heart and a time I felt so isolated yet so close to God. While certainly not easy to be content in this season, I encourage you to continue to treasure the little nuggets she gives now, as these will carry you later and bring you peace and smiles.
    Always in my thoughts and prayers.
    Much love,

    • Thank you Cheryl!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing as I’m in a similar dark season. Caring for my mom is not quite the same intensity as what you face, but I’m also caring for my 2 yr old grandson. I regularly feel isolated as my time is split between helping my mom and being sure we’re home for my grandson’s naptime. This morning, my prayer was that the Lord would help me to choose to be happy. Your words of encouragement assure me that this is a season and He is my Supply. His faithfulness sees us through. Praying for you and sending you a great big hug! One of these days, we WILL get that cup of coffee together! 😉

    • For sure! Your reply encourages me. The struggles we face are not uniquely our own but common to mankind! Love you, Ellen

  6. You are loved and you are covered in prayer. I will continue to lift you up to the one who knows your heart and your mother’s heart. We miss you, but this time with is so important and fleeting. All those meetings will be waiting and eager to recieve you when the time is right. Thank you for sharing your heart so vunerably. You are an inspiration to many. Please keep writing. I believe God is using your words even when you don’t feel you have anything to say.

    • Oh dear Anne. You are always such a well of encouragement! Love you. Ellen

  7. Thank you for the gift of your honesty and vulnerability! Praying for your peace, for an embracing of this season, and for His daily provision of grace, joy, and strength.

  8. I love you, sweet friend. 💜

  9. I feel the mix of emotions in caring for an ill parent, and the unique and often big demands that are part of it, really can take a toll on you day to day….such highs and lows, the heartaches of the indignities, it can all wear you down and bring some darkness. But your perspective is so beautiful, and He is with you. You are intentionally finding and seeking the good nuggets in the midst of the challenges, and you know He will use it all. He struggles and suffers with you and your mom. I will pray you get moments of refreshment and are able to find time for simple and intermittent pleasures. That is a must! When my mother was ill and living with us, I had 3 hours on Friday mornings where I scheduled help, and knowing I had that window of time got me through the other days which could all run together. God bless you. You are living in a loving time of sacrifice.

    • Thank you Tara.

  10. Ellen- pray we will for the desired contentment and growth. Your family loves you. We support you. More importantly God and our Lord Jesus Christ love you perfectly.

  11. Good morning Ellen,

    Thank you for the blog and continue sharing of personal working relationship with God and life. I always look forward to read your e-mails. God Bless You!!! Evelyn


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