Discipleship · Music · Rooted in Christ · Testimony

The Year of the Red Sea Road

Its almost magical, that week between Christmas Day and New Years. The kids enjoying their new toys, winter hikes with the family, sledding on the back yard hill with friends, celebrating my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, twinkling lights and taking stock of the year behind, while setting our gaze on the year ahead. It is almost sacred as we take time to reflect, rejoice and celebrate what our good Father has done in our hearts, our minds, our family, our lives in the past year.

As I open the pages of my new monthly planner, and sketch out the timeline of events, work, schedules, studies that are on the list to work towards this year, my heart is grateful… and dependent. It is dependent on the “I AM”, the LORD, to sustain us, to move us forward in His will, in the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do. It is always about Him, and never about me. It is always His work, and my joy to receive. As I commit these plans to the Lord, He leads me to a theme.

Over twenty years ago now, when I set off on my own, a young adult spreading her wings wide to land in the hills of a small town called Comfort in the rolling bluebonnet-laden hill country of Texas, the Lord began impressing on my heart different themes for the two semesters I was at a Discipleship Bible School. It was amazing to see how God used those themes in my life and to form me. Other years, I have had perhaps a word or theme. As we enter our final semester at seminary, I reflect on the themes God has laid on my heart and look forward to this year’s theme!

When we arrived here in 2015, the theme was that of The Good Shepherd. That theme actually rolled over into 2016 as well. 2017 has been the Year of Stepping Stones as we continued to take steps of faith in various directions to see where God is leading us. Some doors closed, others opened wide, and others are in waiting. I completed my first year of work as a Birth Doula attending 8 births and assisting women as their labor coach. I wrote a piece on Planting Seeds of Wisdom in our Children’s Hearts and a biographical piece called Soul Into Blossom: The Life and Work of Lilias Trotter, in the print issues of Deeply Rooted Magazine (Issues 11 & 12), as well as a piece on Building Intentional Friendships for Family Life Canada. My husband wrote and recorded a full length album with a collection of friends called Gateway Hymns. One of the songs won a song-writing competition and was recorded by The Porter’s Gate Worship Project featuring the voices of Josh Garrels and Liz Vice. Meanwhile, my husband has been continuing to work towards his Mdiv degree after a decade of pastoral ministry. Our children have been growing by leaps and bounds  in so many areas of their lives. It has truly been a year of Stepping Stones.

As I look toward 2018, the Lord has led me to a song this year. Red Sea Road, written by Ellie Holcomb, Christa Wells, and Nicole Witt, speaks of letting go, all to follow Christ in where He is leading us. In God’s Word, we are called to speak truth to our souls, and especially in the Psalms, to sing to our souls. This is what this song speaks to me in this season of transition. In five months, we will, Lord willing, be packing up our earthly possessions to be transplanted into our next location of God’s calling.

 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. Exodus 13:17-18

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. Exodus 13:21-22

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14

 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Exodus 14:19-22

The Lord led His people along the Red Sea Road, the path He made before them, to lead them and give them victory. God calls us to follow Him, and that requires a cost, indeed the giving up of one’s own plans, desires, and expectations. But it is in the letting go of our lives that we find them, it is in saying with Jim Elliot, missionary to Equador, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.”

So we’ll sing to our souls, we won’t bury our hope
Where He leads us to go, there’s a red sea road
When we can’t see the way, He will part the waves
And we’ll never walk alone down a red sea road – Red Sea Road, Ellie Holcomb

As we continually surrender our lives, we know our hope is not in the things of Earth, our hope is in Christ. With our hope in Christ, we are able to let go for we have found our true home, it is Christ Himself. May we always be willing to let go of things we were never meant to keep in our grasp, so that we may live free in the will of God and trust His perfect leading.

Our eyes are fixed, Oh Lord, on You. Our gaze is set directly forward (Proverbs 4:25). You have led us to the Year of the Red Sea Road.

Where He leads us to go, there’s a red sea road – Red Sea Road, Ellie Holcomb


Music · Testimony

Wait for You {Part 3} ~ Be Thou My Vision


This is part 3 in a series titled, Wait For You, based off of my album of the same name released in 2005. This collection of original songs was written over a period of 10 years and were glimpses of my story up until that time. To read Part 1, click here. To read Part 2, click here. 

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6

I sat in my cabin with journal and pen in hand. It was my free time and my cabin of girls were all out enjoying the various activities on their schedule. I was eager to spend time alone with God, to pour out my prayers to Him in my journal and really seek Him intentionally. I desired to spend that time alone with Jesus, in His Word and to pour out my life for Him. I was 16 years old and had one more year of high school left before I embarked on the next phase of life… adulthood! All I wanted was to live my life entirely for Jesus, serving Him in His church, His people, sharing the gospel, going wherever He would lead me and serving in whatever capacity He had for me. As I wrote in my journal, I prayed very specifically three key words that changed my life in very difficult and wonderful ways. I wrote and prayed the words, “Lord, break me.”

My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace;
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God
~Frederick Brook

Anyone who knows the Lord Jesus knows that He is a loving and gentle Good Shepherd. Those who truly know Him, also know that He will work all things together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28). This is not some trite pat answer to suffering, but the very Word of God, given to us, in love, from the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe. Its not meant to be a bandage for the wounded soul, but to actually bring healing and life and get to the heart of how we think and how we live. God’s Word is living and active. It is the healing Word.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

That summer, I worked at camp for almost six weeks with one week break. I was utterly exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually. We had prayed for campers, led activities, Bible studies, prayer times and had so much fun! But it was time for a break. In my sheer exhaustion, my moderate struggle with anxiety became overwhelming and I spiraled into a dark depression, even to the point that I thought God had left me.

I finished off the week and made it through only by God’s grace. I came home depleted and burned out. My parents wondered what had happened to their happy girl. It was hard to continue on week after week as well-meaning people sought to offer help, counseling, and encouragement. But I wasn’t getting better. This was heart-wrenching for my parents and they became my health advocates and pursued Christian counseling for me. I tried to make it through my final year of high school. It was the Lord who walked those school halls with me, as I continued to share my faith in and out of the classroom. I was determined that the enemy of my soul would not win this battle, but that all glory would be given to my Redeemer.

During that year, I experienced the darkness of depression, the dark night of my soul. Spiritually, I felt like I was living in a cloud. But there was a small glimmer of hope that I held onto. I hung on to my belief, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God exists and that He loves me. I knew that somehow He would help me overcome this depression. So I became a warrior of faith in my heart. I may have been quiet on the outside, but my faith was unshakeable. I felt a strong passion to debate atheistic teachers in my high school who expected the students not to challenge their world views. So I stood firm and unashamedly stood up and spoke truth into a spiritually dark school, confounding teachers, and causing them much frustration. I know that God was at work and I may never know the outcome of my witness until I get to Heaven. When I had the chance to speak publicly in my class, I chose to share about the love of Jesus and how He carries us in our brokenness. Students paid attention and listened. Some had tears. No matter how much I suffered from depression, I was determined that God would receive all the glory.

In Genesis 50:20, Joseph speaks to his brothers of their harm toward him. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” In the same way, I am convinced that the enemy of my soul meant evil against me through this depression, and yet God who is in complete control of the circumstances of my life, meant it for good. Therefore, I have peace that God in His sovereignty uses the struggles and trials of a Christian’s life for His ultimate purpose and our ultimate good, though we may not understand the reasons at the time. This is what my mother taught me as I went through this journey of depression. This is how she pointed me to Christ through one of the hardest times of her life, because seeing your daughter go through a heart-wrenching, paralyzing and unexplainable depression is one of the hardest things a mother could possibly go through.

A year after my graduation, God had done much to rebuild and restore me. I had plunged into God’s Word in a way that I never had before. I searched the scriptures for my identity and eternal security… Christ Himself. It was then that I enrolled in a discipleship school in Texas and spent a most amazing year being saturated in God’s Word five hours a day, five days a week. It was an amazing adventure with God. We went to San Luis Potosi, Mexico for a short term missions trip. While there, we visited a potter’s house. The leader took us through the entire process, step by step to see how one piece of pottery is made and formed.


The spinning wheel moved in constant motion as the clay formed in the potter’s gentle hands. The potter was making serving bowls. Once fully formed, he gently placed it on the drying rack to harden. It must be completely dried because any hint of water will expand under the intense heat of the kiln and cause cracks or explosions. Once it was dry, the Potter moved the vessels to the kiln room, a room of bricks and intense heat. I looked into this brick furnace where broken pieces of pottery lay scattered everywhere. Here, the heat can reach such high temperatures that many pieces simply crack and burst in the pressure. Once removed from the kiln, it is strong enough to handle to glaze. The glaze is prepared very carefully using specific recipes, consistent measuring, and careful application. Each bowl is different and unique. So much care and time and thought goes into each piece. The pieces are eventually ready to be put back into the kiln. During this process, the glaze turns to glass, it is completely transformed. When the bowls come out, they are complete. Our tour guide took a beautiful bowl, held it in his hands and told us that just as this piece of clay was molded by the hands of the potter, so we are molded by God, shaped into the vessels He wants us to be. We are put into the fire to test us, to strengthen us. Then we are decorated by His beauty and His righteousness. We are put back into the fire for more strengthening and transformation. God molds us.

Then, the tour guide did something that shocked us all. He opened his hands and the exquisitely fashioned vessel fell to the ground shattering into a hundred pieces. He exclaimed, with tears in his eyes… “then God breaks us”.

I stood stunned in that little Mexican store, heart pounding. This wasn’t just a tour of a potter’s house, this was a life lesson, a parable that touched the core of who I was and what God had already done in me. I will never forget that day. His final point was that God gathers up all the shattered broken pieces and puts us back together again, reshaping us, and lovingly transforming us to be vessels for His glory!

It was also during that year at Bible school that my heart grew to desire overseas missions work, living a life of worship and ministry in the church. I was even ready to go into a jungle to share the gospel with unreached people groups or to Russia to share in a friend’s ministry. I was ready to go wherever and whenever God called me. God gave me a desire to be like Anna, the prophetess in Luke 2:36-38, who lived and ministered in the temple day and night.

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher… She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

It was also during this time at Bible school that the hymn, Be Thou My Vision, became my life song. This hymn was word for word, my heart’s desire.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art –
thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my great Father, I thy true son;
thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my battle shield, sword for my fight;
be thou my dignity, thou my delight,
thou my soul’s shelter, thou my high tow’r;
raise thou me heav’n-ward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
thou mine inheritance, now and always:
thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

~Translated from the Old Irish hymn by Mary E. Byrne

For those who have never experienced the darkness of depression, it is hard to empathize and understand what the sufferer is going through. For those who do recover, partially and even fully, it is still a battle. When my grandmother was in her elderly years, she said to me one day, “There are many battles in this life.” Her statement was profound. Her faith was strong and steadfast in her Redeemer. On the day she died, she was surrounded by her living children as they sang hymns to usher her into the arms of God.

It was in the valley where I learned to give the sacrifice of praise. I learned to worship Him in the midst of suffering. My desire was to become wholly His and His alone. It was through those difficult seasons that the Lord drew me to Himself, and restored me. With His hands to carry me and His love to heal me, my response to this was to sing in worship of Him all the days of my life.

At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him…Watch where God puts you into darkness, and when you are there keep your mouth shut. Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? Then remain quiet…When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.”
~Oswald Chambers


Music · Rooted in Christ

Wait For You {Part 1} – A Tapestry of Grace

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I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6

There is an abundance of spiritual treasures found in waiting on God. It is like a garden that Jesus walks into and plants dreams, hopes, and desires. Sometimes the waiting is short, sometimes the waiting takes years, and sometimes the waiting takes a lifetime. And in the joy, silence, struggle, and anticipation, we find that our souls are only waiting for One. He is Jesus.


Our stories are like a tapestry of woven threads of different colors and textures. From the back of this woven image, we cannot see how all of these intersecting threads could put together a portrait of discernible beauty. Yet the Weaver, the One who is writing our stories, sees and knows what He is creating. When revealed, we are able to see the transformation He has created.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11a

One of the blessings of growing older is being able to see seasons in your life that reach from the far distant past to now. Nearly 40 years old, I have the ability to see the stretch of years behind me and the transformation that took place in my soul over decades. My life is now not just divided into childhood, youth, and the early stages of adulthood in my twenties. It now spans different seasons in adulthood. It is divided into distinct chapters and periods of growth, change, and maturity.

One of the themes of life at seminary is “telling your story”. This theme comes out in many classes that my husband is taking and in the general life of building community here. Your story is of immense value! It is beneficial as a Christian to understand one’s own story, come to terms with parts of your story that are perhaps painful or difficult, celebrate the mighty things God has done in your life and the great blessings He has given, and to see how your story as a child of God fits into God’s eternal story.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

As a writer and as a Christian, I have enjoyed writing out my story many times and sharing it whenever the Lord has given me opportunity. One of the reasons I want to continue to share my story is because I have come to see seasons of joy and seasons of suffering as gifts from the hand of God. My journey includes difficult seasons battling anxiety, perhaps due to having a near fatal bout of pertussis as an infant. After years of a beautiful childhood and teenage years, came a sudden onset of extreme anxiety at the age of sixteen. A chemical imbalance sent me into a tailspin of depression and anxiety requiring several years of doctor’s care, medication, therapy, and resulting in a passionate pursuit of God!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Years ago, as a single woman, I recorded an album of original songs I had written over the span of 10 years called Wait For You. Little did I know that God was orchestrating a collection of songs that would be my testimony up until that point in my life. As I laid out the order of the songs for the album, I saw a journey forming, a tapestry of grace and redemption that could only be orchestrated by Jesus, my Good Shepherd.

Over several essays, I will be sharing snapshots of my story and songs, posting them intermittently over the next few months. I write and share this because when I first started to suffer from anxiety symptoms, I asked God to use this struggle all for His glory. My Savior and Lord had sovereignly put this trial into the story of my life, and though it was the dark night of my soul, I chose to submit myself to my Redeemer and trust Him, which was in itself a gift of grace.

And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.”
Psalm 55:6-8

As I’ve shared my story, a drop in the bucket of the millions of stories of God working in the lives of His people, I have been able to have the blessing and privilege of hearing many others’ stories. God is the author of our stories and they are being grafted into His. Through His grace in our lives, and the work of the Holy Spirit, He shines brightly through these earthly jars of clay to those around us. May our earthly stories be like a compass pointing others to Christ and His Word that they, too, may be transformed by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Motherhood · Music

A Bedtime Song


This is dedicated to Thea, Cheryl, Holly, Katie, Christine, Tara, Kristen, and Danae… and the eight precious newborns born this past month.

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
Psalm 65:8

With her baby blanket wrapped lovingly around her shoulders, I held her, my beloved daughter as I sang her to sleep. Songs of worship, praise to our God, lulled her to sleep each night. Old choruses from church, hymns, Christmas songs. These were the songs that I serenaded her with in that sacred half hour that marked the divide between day and night. I cherished those moments while holding the gift and praising the Giver.

Shortly after, a blessed son was given and added to the jubilant chorus of worshiping God through whispered songs and peaceful melodies at the close of the day. Songs filled our days and even our nights. By now, my daughter was one of the ones singing my son to sleep with the hymns and songs that we sang with her. I remember one night, her three year old voice echoing from the upstairs room singing “At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light…” and “Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within…”. When we added a third little choir member and then a fourth to the Harris home, we began playing a lullaby scripture album and as the words would carry them off to dreamland, it brought me into the presence of God in worship and rest.

Several months ago, with our fourth then almost two years old, we added a new bedtime song. I didn’t mean for it to necessarily become the new song, I just kept pressing play on this selection every nap time and soon, it became the bedtime song.

The other night, my 3 year old asked, “Can you play the song that says holy, holy?” Ah… yes, the bedtime song. Based off of Mary’s magnificat in Luke 1:46-55, it is a song of praise to God for remembering his mercy to His people and for choosing Mary to become the mother of the Son of God. She rejoices in God, her Savior, with a song of worship for the mighty things He has done. And in between these words of praise, my little ones fall asleep for the night.

“Magnificat”, Rain for Roots, Album: Waiting Songs

My soul magnifies the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God
My soul magnifies the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God

For He who is mighty
Has done great things for me
Holy holy
Holy holy
Holy holy
Is His name

His mercy flows in wave after wave
On those who are in awe before Him
He embraced his chosen child, Israel
He remembered and piled on the mercies, He piled them high!
It’s exactly what He promised
Beginning with Abraham and right up to now. (Luke 1:50, 54-55 from The Message)

My soul magnifies the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God
My soul magnifies the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God

For He who is mighty
Has done great things for me
Holy holy
Holy holy
Holy holy
Is His name

Words by Mary, mother of Jesus
Music by Flo Paris Oakes (©1999 Flo Paris Music)

Scripture quotation from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Photo by Melody Davis




As a child, I had a Children’s Bible for the longest time. It was so well loved that the pages were falling out, one by one. Whole sections were breaking off and even the spine was detaching from the rest of the book. I had to fix it with a hot glue gun, several times over. Eventually, I got a brown leather Bible case for it which held in its pockets all my notes and lists I made during the sermon. I often sat near my best friends and we always passed notes during the service. And when I wasn’t writing notes during the service, I was exploring the hymn book from front to back, including all those little categories that organize the hymns so well. I was amazed that some of the hymns were 400 years old and there were hymns for every occasion!

I also remember the days in public school when the Gideons would come to the school and hand out free, little red Gideon Bibles. I don’t think they do this anymore in Canada, but it was during the 1980’s and I was so excited to get my Gideon Bible. I cherished it and it fit nicely into my denim purse!

I kept this Bible in the top drawer of my night table in my bedroom. I am not sure exactly why or how this all came about, but at some point, I started a habit of reading Psalm 48:1-2:

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
In the city of our God, His holy mountain.
Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion in the far north,
The city of the great King.
Psalm 48:1-2 NASB

Every morning when I woke up, I took my Bible out of the drawer and opened it to this verse, read it and then got ready for school. It was habit. And soon it was memorized. This was the way God prepared me for each day. I needed His Word in my heart. It was a big thing to go out into the world of school and stand firm in my faith as a young Christian. I realize now that it was Him drawing me to His Word, preparing me to live for Him in the hallways of my school. He is the one who drove me to those verses day after day, to start my days with praise.

This was one of my first introductions to the Psalms. Another was from a song my sisters and I learned to play on the piano called, As The Deer, based on Psalm 42:1. Each of us had our own version of how we played the song. Whenever a piano was nearby, I would sit down and play this song over and over. God was teaching me to worship Him.

Eventually I began to put my own music to several Psalms and listened to other artists’ versions of Psalms. It grew in me a passion for worshiping God through His own Word! All these years later, one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Sandra McCracken, has written and recorded her own album of Psalms and it is simply one of the best. It was our theme music of Summer 2015 and so many memories are now attached to those songs as we played her music non-stop, and quite loudly, for the first few months after moving to the mid-west.

These songs, based on the Psalms, evoke a variety of emotion, deep heart cries to God, words of comfort and rejoicing in praise. My favorite song, We Will Feast in the House of Zion, is a song of triumph and hope, a banner of victory and faith that I needed last summer, as we made such a huge move across the country. Along with these songs, I wept and rejoiced in worship to God, our Good Shepherd, as He so lovingly reminded us over and over of His faithfulness, His presence in our lives, and His trustworthiness.

We will feast in the House of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
-Sandra McCracken