As I reflect on my journey and skip through the puddles from the storms that washed me down the path that has brought me to the present, I am reminded that the storms that raged with winds so great and waves so high, though they battered and knocked me down, they never made me drown. As many times as it seemed it was the end, or as bad as I wanted it to end, I now understand it was a moment of redirection to the bigger picture of God’s great love and purpose for my life.
Hi! I’m Elle, a single mama to 3 wonderful kiddos (Jackson, 12, Avery, 9, and Harrison, 8), a commercial photographer, singer/songwriter, worship leader at C3 Church on 78, and my favorite tile…Daughter of the King.
I come from humble beginnings. My dad was a poultry farmer by day and a musician by night. As a child, I felt like I could relate to the birds kept in the cages on our farm. I felt trapped, and since I was born near-sighted, I couldn’t see the distance between reality and my dreams, but I knew there was more than dirt and gravel roads. I wanted to travel on paved roads and climb to the top of the big-city buildings. I’ve wondered…As a child, why did I long to be in a place I wasn’t placed in?
Recently, I was reminded of the building that sat behind out house. We called it “The Building.”
My dad built it for his recording studio; it was 20 feet by 10 feet and 8 feet high. The exterior was light blue with black shingles, and it had two windows to let in ambient light. The interior was padded with dark red, commercial-grade carpet that covered the walls to sound-proof the room.
My sister Bex and I loved going in there as kids to create wild sounds on the keys (cats in space was one of our masterpieces) and sing at the top of our lungs on the mics.
At night, I would peek out the back door window of our house to see the little light that was on, and I knew my dad was recording new songs. After a couple years, the light started to fade, and The Building became a junk room for all of the things we didn’t want any more.
Years passed, and spider webs covered the keys; the sound equipment was covered in dust, and you could no longer walk in the room without stepping over a mountainous pile of clothes, toys, and things of old we no longer wanted.
My parents divorced in 2004 and sold the farm. The Building was torn down, the junk was thrown away, and the new owners who bought the property built gorgeous homes where our humble abode used to reside.
2004 continued to be a very memorable year. I graduated from high school, got married, and had my first baby. What seemed to be the start of a happy story ended up becoming a dismal chapter. I spent the next decade in darkness and depression. I lived with the spirits of control, intimidation, manipulation, and fear. My husband and I went through several rounds of separation, and I continued to run instead of facing my problems.
I had 3 babies by the age of 22; I was a young mom with big dreams in a glass cage. I was upset, angry, and confused, and bitterness took root deep within, so I flew as far as I could go, landing at the edge of the ocean. Our little family ended up on a small island in coastal Georgia, Saint Simons Island, at the end of 2012. For a moment, I thought I had escaped from everything I didn’t want to face, but I soon realized I was still trapped in my circle because I was the common denominator.
Towards the end of the 3 years we lived on the island, the winds of the storm around me started to get heavier, and the waves left me breathless. The death of my marriage is what finally broke me. You see, over the years, I continued to try to salvage the piles of junk that filled my building. I tried to repair my parents’ marriage through my marriage, and I tried to fix those things in my past that were broken. God then intervened and sent the storm clouds that immersed me in rain.
I now understand why the storms came. They were there to wash me clean and to remove the debris from inside of me.
Just as the new owners of the farm tore down old structures to rebuild their mansions, God has to level us out so He can restore us. This life is a construction zone. The buildings we try to build are never up to code when we try to construct our lives ourselves. We need the Architect who holds our blueprint.
For the many years I had lived my life outside of God’s purpose, I had finally come to the crossroad of understanding that He is the potter, and we are the clay. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future'” (ESV).
God has promised to restore our buildings. My love and passion for music has always been part of my roots. The paved roads and big city buildings that I desired to reach as a child are of symbolic measure. He has called each of us to do great things. Even though all of our purposes are different, none are less important than the others.
A year ago, after moving back to Athens and dropping my bags, the Lord called me to lead worship at C3 Church on 78. The desires of my heart of being in a band and encouraging others through music has come to pass. Serving and leading others into the presence of God in worship is a dream come true.
God had to remove the junk in my building to remind me of its purpose. As the mist and clouds scatter, I see the rainbow on the horizon.
Without the rain, we won’t grow, and without the sun, Jesus, we won’t become stronger. Remember; the storms are not here to drown you. God promised He would not let that happen again, and that is why He sent the rainbow to remind us of His great love in restoring the buildings that will one day be completely restored in His timing and in accordance to His majestic blueprint. Keep looking up; your rainbow is among the clouds.