We will always remember Ellie for her love for others, her creativity, sensitivity, and delight in life! Ellie's light has spread far and wide... may it continue to shine in our hearts.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thank You!

Thank you all for the beautiful comments and emails. We are overwhelmed by your support and love! I cannot even describe to you the comfort that it gives me to see how God would cause one tiny little light to shine so brightly in the hearts of many.

I also stand amazed (although by now what God does shouldn't really surprise me anymore) by how many of you were praying for us yesterday - praying specifically that Ellie would go home quickly. I am convinced with my whole heart that your prayers were the reason that Ellie only had one terrible day. In the world of slow deaths, ONE terrible day is a miracle.

Since last night we have cried many many tears, but we have laughed just as hard. Thank you all for your concern for our little Ethan buddy. For days we have been talking to Ethan about the fact that Ellie was not getting better and that she would die soon. All day yesterday we allowed Ethan into the room with Ellie for short visits when things were peaceful. When he needed us, he could come - but then we made sure that he spent more time playing outside of the room. At one point, when Ethan was watching Ellie sleep, he said "I just want Ellie to die now and go to Heaven." We assured him that it was also what we wanted. (Children have such a special way of zeroing in on the one thing that the adults never have the nerve to admit!) We sat down in the rocking chair and prayed that God would take Ellie to Heaven very soon so that she wouldn't feel anymore pain. Ethan promptly skipped off to play. In the evening, after Ellie was gone, and the harshness of our sobbing had softened, I went out to the living room and carried Ethan into the bedroom. On the way, I told him that Ellie had died. He was quite interested and perplexed over that, so I deposited him into John's lap on the bed. As Ethan sat there in his daddy's arms, he began to touch Ellie's face. He kept repeating "Ellie's dead? She's dead now? Right now?" He tried to open her eyelids. He kissed Ellie's face and hugged her head a few times, but would continue his exploration of this new and terribly quiet sister. He yelled in Ellie's ear and poked her mouth trying to get her to communicate with him. He then lifted her hand and dropped it to see if that would elicit a response. Nothing... so back to the eyelids to see if he could get a reaction. Finally, after exhausting all attempts to find any sign of life, Ethan lay his head in my lap and sobbed. We held him and cried with him as we told him that we were sad and missed her too, but that Ellie no longer could feel pain. Ethan continued to cry much longer than I would have expected, but the sound of it was beautiful to me. Had he not discharged that much emotion, we would have seen it come out in other ways over the coming days. Somehow, in the midst of all the pain, what I witnessed in that room was a beautiful thing. He fell asleep like an angel last night. Today Ethan has been playing with Ellie's toys and has claimed (at my urging) a number of her stuffed animals as his own. Every once in a while Ethan will say (in a rather chipper little voice) "I miss my Ellie." And tonight Ethan said "Mommy, I was sad when I was looking up at the stars because I was thinking of Ellie. So I asked God to send her back. He said no, and that made me sad." We know that there are many hard days to come. We know that Ethan will push all of the limits of his boundaries and that his grief will take many forms. But we know that because of your loving prayers, our son has had the best possible beginning and understanding of an unthinkable situation.

So... how are we doing... really? I honestly don't know. I guess we are normal - which pretty much means crazy and unpredictable. For the moment I am mostly in the zone of feeling more relief than anything. The pressure and buildup have been un-bearable for me as we have been living in limbo, and so the whole relief of having it over has taken me to a new place of peace... for now. I fully realize that the worst of it is yet to come for me. I tend to break down over something, or when talking on the phone from time to time, but then my tears will dry and I will feel peace and joy again. I have not yet reached the place of despair - the gut wrenching "I-don't-even-want-to-live-anymore" place that we all know that I will need to dip into before time begins to soften the edges... John, on the other hand, has been true to his nature and is grieving with all of the intensity that I have grown to know and appreciate in him. The beautiful Bible story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with her tears has taken on a whole new meaning for us, as Ellie's feet were quite literally and lovingly washed with her daddy's tears. I believe that as of this moment, John has shed enough tears to have washed her entire body. I don't think that I will ever see anything in this life that will compare to the grief of a man for his child. I feel as though I have witnessed something so sacred and powerful... and it has given me a never before seen glimpse into the heart of God. To lose a child is unbearable, but for God to have willingly and purposefully chosen to send his only Son to this world to die a horrible death for me... there are no words...

All those in this house are wrung out with grief and exhaustion, but I would ask you for your loving prayers tonight for our sweet Loretta. She has fought valiantly and tirelessly for a whole year and a half. Ellie has been her full time job, and La has done things for her that no one on this Earth would have been able to do. Loretta has not allowed herself to go to the place of grief in order to stay in the moment and fight along side of Ellie in a way that even John and I have not been able to. In these end weeks, we have been able to walk away to cry and let go... to prepare. But La would not look into Ellie's eyes and see death. Until that last moment, Loretta saw life - she fostered that life, fanned the flame of it, and then watched it go out. She identified with Ellie in a way that I was unable to. I was "Mom" - helping and watching from the outside, but Loretta took Ellie's suffering on in a unique way. She felt every sensitivity, took it on as her own, and then learned how to soothe it. There is a lost and bereft look in Loretta's eyes that is breaking my heart. Those of you on the other side of the world, who pray us through our nights - please pray Loretta through this night. She has been so sleep deprived that now she's having trouble sleeping as she deals with the full weight of this grief.

Also heavy on my heart tonight are the children - Ellie's cousins and friends. I would ask you to please surround these precious children with your love and prayer. I cannot even fathom dealing with the loss of a friend at such young ages. I would like to give you the names of Ellie's closest friends and ask that you please pray for wisdom for their parents and comfort for their hearts, as well as for their siblings. In Florida: Ellie's cousin Alex; Aubrey; Alexandria; her cousin Megan; her cousins Mady and Libby; and Ryan. (There are so many more that I am not naming - from school and church - who feel such loss as well! There are also her little cousins who are too young to fully comprehend the loss, but are affected nonetheless.) And in Montana there are three wonderful new friends who have blown us away with their ability to love Ellie despite the imminent danger of losing her. They are so special and are hurting so much. Hennessey has never met Ellie personally, but has been such a part of Ellie's life with her sweetness and friendship from a distance. And Bailey and Codey. These two loving friends at first soothed the hurt in Ellie of missing her friends, and then built friendships with her that are true and wonderful. They gave her times of play and laughter... time to be a child again. Thank you for surrounding these young ones with your prayers as they struggle to navigate the confusion and pain.

Thank you as well for your continued prayer for our families who are not here with us. They are hurting so very much! Ellie's grandparents: Gary & Nancy Hamm and Stan & Pat Skees. Her great-grandparents: Jim & Jean VanDelinder; Lois Mankins; Irene Trout; Agnes Skees. Ellie's aunts, uncles and cousins: Russ and Ginger Harris (Maddie); Chad and Janeene Mankins (Elijah and Zeke); Jim and Jenn Fowler (Mady, Libby and Emma); David and Tricia Hamm. Ellie also has so many great aunts, uncles, and cousins. We love them all and cannot wait to be with them to wrap our arms around them. They loved Ellie with all of their hearts, and she loved them in return. Please, please ask God to comfort and hold them as they grieve.

I guess I've given you a whole lot to pray about this time! I love how God impresses people in different ways to pray for specific things. I know that you are all doing that already. I just wanted to give you as many specifics as possible. I know that there are grandparents out there, thinking of their own precious ones who will be holding our parents up this night, or others who lost a friend in their childhood who will know exactly how to pray for the little children. I am so grateful that you are such willing hearts to lift up our burdens before God. Thank you is just not enough at a time like this. At one time I imagined all of the beautiful jars and bottles of tears - your tears - that God was collecting for me in Heaven, but I have decided that it must now be a swimming pool. I can't help but smile as my eyes of faith are watching Ellie taking a nice long swim right now! She loved to swim. As always, I have taken comfort in your tears. I know that they are of great value in God's sight, but I want you to know that they are priceless in mine as well!

Now for the plans and details... We don't have all of the details lined up and nailed down, but I want to try to get preliminary information out for those who are wanting to come to a memorial service for Ellie. We have decided to do two services in order to allow as many people to come as possible. We will have one in Montana and one in Florida. I just don't have the exact dates - I'll have to give you the ball-park for now... The service in Montana will be in Bigfork on December 27, 28, or 29. I will try to have an answer on that tomorrow, but I'm hoping for the 28th. We will fly to Florida on December 30 and will stay for three weeks. The scheduling for that service is a little trickier, but it will probably be in the third week of January. There are a number of reasons why having that service sooner is impossible. I will try to have much more specific information available as soon as I can. (Including lodging information for those traveling.) Most importantly, I want to make sure that you all know that if you want to come to either service, we want to have you there. If we have never met you before, we would love to meet you. If Ellie has touched your life in any way and you are able to come remember her with us and celebrate the amazing nine years that we were blessed by her - we welcome you to come. We want to hug you and thank you in person!

And so, tonight, I pray that God will bless you abundantly and fully for all that you have done for our family. And I pray that He will comfort you as He has comforted us!


At 3:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hugs to you and your fsmily

At 3:36 AM, Anonymous Amy said...

Hello Sarah,
My mother and I are shedding many tears here in Australia. I really wish I could come and celebrate Ellie's life with you. Seeing as I can't I am happy to be one of the people on the other side of the world who can pray tonight for Loretta and all the other people you have mentioned. I have written all their names down and I will continue to uphold you all in prayer.

At 3:48 AM, Blogger Robyn said...

I'm adding to that swimming pool. Thank you for sharing so openly and giving me direction on how best to pray for you all. I'm one of those who prays during your night and am definitely lifting you all up before Him.

At 5:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tears have fallen but also the peace is there. We ARE praying through your night! Praying for Loretta and all the dear friends and family who have been touched by Ellies sweet life. Know that you are held in His hand and we will be praying! IN HIM! Barb Schrag/PNG

At 5:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are praying for you on the other side of the world. God brought Loretta to my mind this morning to pray for her... what an amazing lady she is. What huge sacrifices she has made. In the midst of all the Christmas busyness we are remembering you and your loss. We will NOT forget to keep praying for you, your friends and extended family.

NTMer in the UK

At 5:51 AM, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

Sarah, John and Ethan - you continue to give lessons in dealing with the pains of this life while keeping our hearts set on the next. We will pray for Loretta certainly - she has been a true servant heart for Ellie and all of you. Thank you for the information about services and only wish it were possible for us to travel and meet you. Bless you friends and Ethan my man - if we have any goats this spring maybe you could name some for me too!?

At 5:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you again for sharing with us all that you are going thru. We have prayed so much and will continue to pray for you and for those you have mentioned. We love you! Bill, Karyn, Steven, Emily and Jonathan

At 5:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God is an awesome god! We are continuing to pray for your ENTIRE family. Love and prayers from Florida,
The Shumway Family (Shannon Tuggle)

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Kacie said...

I have only been following Ellie's story for the past few weeks, but I wanted to stop in and tell you that you can chalk up some of my tears in that bottle.

Praise God that He is God in grief as well as gladness!

My prayers are with you all. Your family is beautiful.

At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I can type thru my tears, I want you to know that you are Amazing! Ellie is dancing in Heaven or swimming with her grandpa now, and you need to relax a little too. You have been a pillar of strength,faith and amazing trust in God thru this whole ordeal. I hope you take some time for you, John, and Ethan and don't feel the need to comfort all of us right now. Spend some time with your thoughts and joys of Ellie and take care of yourself. You did an awesome job!! God bless and keep you.
Shannon O'Connor

At 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you...

Peter and Family in Canada

At 7:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May God be with you all...we're praying from across the ocean...
My thoughts are especially with Loretta and with little Ethan--but with Mom and Dad too.. :)
May He dry your tears and hold you close...

At 7:16 AM, Blogger Deann said...

Amazing and beautiful- you and your words.

Prayers to you and your family. They will continue without ceasing!

At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share all this with us. Even though we have never met, I feel like we have gotten to know your family this past year. We have been praying fervently for you ever since we heard that Ellie is with Jesus. It is truly bittersweet. We are rejoicing iwth you that she is now walking by sight - she is enjoying Jesus face to face! And we are crying with you over your loss. We will be praying that God would meet your every need in the days to come. We love you dear friends. We promise to keep praying.

The Browns

At 7:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What words does one say after reading your heart today! You my dear Sarah are a joy to the heart of God and he rejoices to be able to allow your daughter freedom to run and play in fields of Grace. As for Ethan, thank you for allowing him the time to explore Ellie and to understand what has happened. I will pray for those you have named and for the grandparents as I am one myself. In your and Johns grief I pray that God will hide you both in the cleft of the rock, and overshadow you with His wings. God Bless!
Love Mema T in SC

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Whatleys' World said...

Sarah, you have always done an amazing job at expressing yourself with just the right words. As the three of you spent time with Ellie's body, I can only imagine the amazing closure for Ethan. Truly a gift from the Lord. Thank you for giving us specific request. We will be praying especially for La. My heart breaks for her as well. God will give sleep and comfort. May the memorial services be a very wonderful and special time for ALL of your family. Love and hugs...

At 8:01 AM, Blogger c.g. said...


My heart broke anew over reading the part about John. Our love and prayers will be much with him.

Thank you for sharing the part about Ethan. It was precious.

Loretta and Ellie's grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and friends will be also covered with prayer.

You have shared your heart so bravely over this time and in doing so have put Ellie and your family into many many hearts. Thank you for this special blessing of getting to know and love you all in such a personal way.

And Jesus said
"Come to the water, stand by my side
I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied
I felt every tear drop, when in darkness you
cried, and I strove to remind you,
It's for those tears I died"

Holding you in our prayers and love.

At 8:02 AM, Blogger S.u.s.a.n said...

For what it's worth, I'm in awe of how you allowed Ethan to touch and interact after Ellie had passed. My parents lost a baby when I was 6 years old and for so long it was so surreal to me. I guess my parent's handled it the best they could ... you are handling Ethan beautifully. May all the love and support that surrounds your family, bring you everlasting peace. Ellie is finally at peace. I will continue to keep your family in my prayers.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Hugs and prayers. I lost a 21 year old son almost 15 years ago--not to illness--to an accident. Losing children is so hard and my heart goes out to you. Will keep you guys in my prayers.

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Seeing the effect that Ellie had on so many people is quite humbling. In her short nine years, she touched more people's lives than most do in a hundred years. It's still hard to believe she's gone. I will continue to pray for you and your family and friends. I love you all so much! Ellie will be sincerely missed...

Katie Irvin

At 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again, THANK YOU Sarah for carefully sharing from the most vulnerable parts of your being with us! We will be praying for those you mentioned, especially Loretta. I think you were very wise to allow Ethan to experience the grief of saying good by to Ellie. Very wise. I am upholding you each in prayer today.
Alexa's response to Ellies death was much like some of the other children's responses. A big smile came across her face as she began to imagine Ellie in heaven with Jesus.
Taking you before our Father,

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to write amongst evertyhing you are going through. That story of Ethan was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. How truly precious our children are!! We pray for continued stregnth and comfort in the days ahead. I want to thank you for letting me be a part of this journey and having the honor of praying for you all. with much love, simons family

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Kristie said...

My dear friend Sarah! I posted a comment but didn't see if it got to you, so if you receive this twice my appologies. I want you to know that our prayers are with your family during this difficult time. Sarah, you are such an example to me. You always have been and you continue to be. I stood in the middle of my bedroom yesterday and just cried out to God to give you a "peace that passes ALL understanding" in the next couple of months. I miss your big smile I would see every morning the kids and I would come down the stairs and see you! I love you! Kristie

At 9:07 AM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

Hi John, Sarah, Ethan, Loretta and all,

You're welcome.

Thanks for inviting us into the room with you; for sharing yourselves, your witness of the Lord with us.

Thanks for the prayer list.

Can't wait to meet all of you, whether here or in heaven.

Love you all,

At 9:25 AM, Blogger sunset years said...

We are so gifted by your bringing us into your families sorrows. A great sense of hush, as if being a part of something sacred, falls over my heart
as you take me into this very private sharing of your love for your dear daughter and son.
May God's sustaining grace continually be yours.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

I will be praying for these names. I can only begin to imagine the grief. I added some tears to that swimming pool last night, to Ellie's swimming pool. She was such a beacon for what life truly is, especially for those last few months. She was a real blessing to me.

Know that although we cannot be at Ellie's service personally, we are there in heart. May it be a blessed time.

I found this poem, written for a Lady named Mary, who passed on to be with Jesus just hours after Ellie did. I imagine them singing together.

In a quiet room, the celebration began
Without loud shouts, without a band.
As it was on the first Christmas so long ago,
There was no fanfare, there was no snow.

There was no need for sparkling lights
For her eyes shone with His love inside
There was no need for gifts and bows
Her gift was the Lord, the fairest rose

There was no need for sermons of giving
When all about her the gospel was living
In the hearts and touches of family and friends
Who came and enjoyed their time to spend

There was no need for cookies and ham
She was ready to taste from the great I am
He filled her spirit and fed her with bread
What a heavenly, delectable spread.

So in this season, from this year forward
Let us look to heaven and thank the Lord
For the season she modeled, in every way
She was Mary Christmas, each moment, each day.

I pray you do have a Merry Christmas.

God bless,

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Elijah's Mommy said...

I almost didn't write anything because i really don't know what to say. My heart hurts for your loss. But I just want you to know that your family is in my heart and prayers. I'm glad Ethan seems to understand. I was touched by your story on how he asked God to send her back and God said no. I wish i could hear God speak as clearly has Ethan. =)

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Penny-Sue said...

Even in your grief and pain, your words soothe my heart.
I know that we have never met face to face, but somehow you are a part of our everyday thinking and the Skees have been right there at the top of our prayer list for over a year now. I have cried with you and laughed with you and anxiously checked the computer daily in good times and in bad.
Thank you for all that you have done through your words to keep all of us focused on the SOVERIGN LORD who knows what is best for all of us. His plan is always perfect, even when we tend to ask why.
We will continue to uphold you in the days and weeks to come.

Just think of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven!
Of touching a hand, and finding it God's!
Of breathing new air, and finding it Celestial!
Of waking up in Glory, and finding it HOME!!!

Continuing to Pray!!

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are an amazing family. Praying still. I hope that knowing Ellie touched people from all over with this blog helps in some way. I pray that Ellie's life will bring someone to Jesus.

Laura T. :)

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Jeanie said...

My heart is broken for you, and rejoicing for your precious little girl. I praise the Lord for the 9 special years that God gave you with his little Ellie.
School got out Wednesday, so I didn't get the news of Ellie's homegoing until today, Friday!
Lots of hugs, love, and prayers from Mexico!

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart is again full of emotions as you describe, in detail, such treasured moments. Such private moments that you have allowed to 'see' and be a witness to God's faithfulness and your faithfulness and trust in him.

As for Loretta, we have been wondering for quite some time how she is doing and she is certainly in our prayers. She has given and given and given so much and poured her heart into this journey. God will surely bless that wonderful woman!

Words fail me right now for the tears but we will see you at the memorial service in Bigfork.

Crying along with you and thanking God for his tender mercies, Sheri

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Tony & Shelly said...

I sat here reading this after hearing the news - wpw... Praying for you all, and sending you so many prayers...

At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Jenn said...

I have sat and read your amazing words. Even after what could be a moment of such sorrow you have managed to hold on tight and not let go. God is such a good God. His mercies are new every morning.
Sarah you and your stories of Ellie have taught me to love more, to hug a lot, to not anger over small things. May we all be so blessed as to have the love you have for your children and family.
Holding you up in prayer.
Blessings, The Johnson Family in Florida

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sitting here crying my eyes out for you but at the same time I can't begin to imagine the joy that Ellie is experiencing now...tears of happiness for her! We are praying for each of you and those in your extended family. I am specifically praying for the strength and clarity of mind you will need to make all the details for the memorial services come together, for the bittersweetness of this holiday season, and for healing and special ways to bring together the three of you. Wish there was something we could do to ease the pain of this separation for you.

At 12:23 PM, Anonymous God´s Warrior: Francisco Alonso said...

John 14

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are the Whitakers from Canada who followed Ellie since the very first September of her diagnosis and today is very bright and sunny here where we live. The sunlight is failing to light our hearts, however, as we long to see your family whole again, with Ellie dancing her ballet. I feel as though her trips to New York should have been to try out for the Julliard Academy, not to fight a battle with a demon. She had such natural grace, poise, and of course, those long limbs! She was her father's twin soul, without a doubt. We keep watching her at the night time launch, listening for her laughter. When Ellie laughed, her entire body laughed! She was one of those kids who get happy right to their toes. She was the reflection of her family's love for her and for each other. I have never had the death of a person I never met hurt this badly. We are holding you as close as we can and seriously trying to find a way to Montana, so that we can say good bye to the little dancing soul who made our souls dance, too. We love your daughter and will always remember her and do good works in her honour. Ellie, sweetest of sweethearts, we love you so much more than words can say and miss your videos, dances, smiles, laughter, and tough spirit that clung to life. We will live each day with joy in your honour, as you cherished life so much. We will cherish life, too, because not to do so would be to dishonour you.

The Whitaker Family.

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Gerry said...

I did not read about the newest angel in heaven until this morning. As is everyone else, tears are falling here in Massachusetts for sweet Ellie and all of you. Reading the comments from others, Shannon said "You did an awesome job!!" I agree; and that is a wonderful thing to say. Sarah, you have shared all of yourself and your family with the world! You've made us all better people with a stronger faith. Know that all of you are in my prayers. Loretta gets a few extra and please give John a hug. His pain is surely unbearable but Ellie's heavenly Father will take care of her. You have been a blessing to all of us. With Love, Gerry

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Greg Pflug said...

know that your family will continue to be in our families daily prayers.

At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are very sadden by your loss. Please know that you are all in our prayers. We are here for you if you need anything at all.

Sherry, Paul, Halie & Courtney Saunders

www.caringbridge.org/visit/courtneysaunders (we met all of you at the RMH NYC)

At 1:54 PM, Blogger HopiQ said...

We are continuing to uphold you in prayer. Thank you for sharing all those last moments with us. The Lord has touched so many through Ellie's life. You are so precious to Him...and to us.

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sarah & John
We rejoice with you that Ellie's suffering is over and is in a better place. Thank God for the hope that we have that we will be seeing Ellie in glory in his time. Our prayers are with you, the Skees and Mankins family.We will continue to uphold all of you in our prayers. Looking forward to seeing all of you in Florida.
May the Good Lord grant you peace & comfort.
Romans 8:18"I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us"(GNB).
Love & prayers
George family

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

A friend of mine at church in Bham, Ala asked us to be praying for you. I looked and read your sweet Ellie's story. You are loved and prayed for.. Much love and prayers, Jennifer Banks

At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving us specific ways to pray. We are lifting you up so many times during the day and night....

At 5:02 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Your family has been a real inspiration through this entire journey. May peace be with you all, and please know that Ellie's life has touched so many people she never even got the chance to know.

God bless.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Triplet Butterfly Wings said...

I am so sorry to hear of your sweet daughter's passing. Your strength is amazing and gives me hope too that I will be there someday. I held all 3 of my triplets as they passed earlier this year due to a premature birth. I appreciate your story and again your strength.

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praying for each and every one of those requests! Much love and prayer!

At 6:24 PM, Blogger Cindy said...

I just found you tonight and have spent the last 30 minutes reading Ellie's story, rejoicing for her ultimate healing, and crying for you and John and Ethan. It is so clear that you are bringing God honor and glory and you will make His name famous. And it is clear that your story will bless and strengthen so many others. I pray you will feel His intimate love for you and will experience His peace like never before. Thank you for reminding me to love my children fully every minute. Blessings to you.

At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellie has taught us all so much over this past year...thank you for sharing each and every painful but very wonderful step with us!!!

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Annelise said...

This post is beautiful, perceptive writing. I don't know you and never met Ellie, but my heart goes out to you and your family. I've been praying for you and will continue to do so.

At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't even have the words to say how sorry I am, here in New Jersey. I can't even imagine the grief you feel upon losing a child: I'm only 22, and have no children of my own.
Tonight, I hugged and kissed my nephew just a little more, thinking of your loss, and it's helped make me much more grateful for what I have, and what I've taken for granted.
Your family is in my prayers and I extend my deepest sympathies. If I had the money, I'd fly to either service, just to give you all a hug for the joy that Ellie's life has given me.

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Jon, Judy and Karina said...

Dear Sarah,
Thank you for sharing the harsh and yet sometimes tender moments and hours of grief. I esp. think of John and Ethan. Tears and prayers for you all, esp. including LA. We will continue to pray for you and your friends and family for as you so well said, the worst grieving is yet to come...the actual living life without her here. May this verse be of comfort to you: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" I Thes. 2:19

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Becky K. said...

I read this post first thing this morning and was crying so hard there was no way I could write to you then. Having lost both my father and my husband's father in the last two years I can mostly relate to the part about being ready to let go. (Our situation was not anything like that of losing a child...I am not comparing that...I do not know that kind of pain.) I have learned, however, that dying grace is for more than just the person passing into eternity. Family members seem to be granted the ability to survive the unimaginable with unbelievable strength. I believe that this is a special gift from our loving Heavenly Father. You have written about that so clearly. You are to be commended.

I also agree with others who commented on your time in the room with Ethan. That was so wise. You continue to impress... with your wisdom in this situation.

The prayers will continue heavenward for all of you...and the tears will continue to flow for your pain.

Your Sister in Christ,

Becky K.

At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Patty in VA said...

Sarah, John, Ethan and Loretta,

I have a Poem for you, from your Precious Little Angel Ellie.....

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees

around the world below

With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars,

reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,

Please wipe away the tear

For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many songs

that people hold so dear

But the sounds of music can't compare

with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you,

the joy their voices bring,

For it is beyond description,

to hear the angels sing

I know how much you miss me,

I see the pain inside your heart.

But I am not so far away,

We really aren't apart.

So be happy for me dear ones,

You know I hold you dear

And be glad I'm spending Christmas

with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift,

from my heavenly home above.

I sent you each a memory

of my undying love.

After all, love is a gift more precious

then pure gold

It was always most important

in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other,

as my Father said to do

For I can't count the blessing or love

he has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and

wipe away that tear.

Remember, I am spending Christmas with

Jesus Christ this year.

At 4:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have already posted but you are on my mind again as I wrap my 3 childrens' Christmas presents and am crying over your loss. I rejoice Ellie is with the Lord and as I told my children that Ellie had died, my 9 year old son just smiled as he realised she is now with the Lord. But as I sit here this morning I can't get you off my mind. You are so strong and I have said to my husband that God must give tremendous grace in these kind of times because we can NOT imagine how you are getting through this time. Praise God for His comfort and in the dark and down times which you will no doubt experience we will continue to pray you through. Thank you for your brutal and painful honesty... you are an awesome testimony.

At 6:07 AM, Anonymous Boo Bininger said...

We have prayed for your family since learning of your daughter's brave fight with cancer. We have 4 daughters adopted from China and know Jen Fowler through my sisters Liz Dowdell and Becky Junod.

My heart aches for you and the loss of your Ellie here on earth. Your strength through God's love is an amazing testimony for us all.

May peace be with you, your family and your precious daughter Ellie, who is NO DOUBT dancing with the angels!

Belinda "Boo" Bininger
Orlando, Florida

At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Skees family, Especially John, I am a father of 3 beautiful kids, I cant imagine what you must be going through. Please grieve as much as you need to, you were blessed to have such a beautiful daughter for these 9 years. From a guy to another guy - I will pray for you brother in Christ, I will cry with you also. Your family is such an example of strength to us all. God will be a pillar thru this time.
Blessings, - Mike Stark, Blairstown, NJ

At 8:43 AM, Anonymous The Parkers said...

We continue to cherish all the happy memories we spent with Ellie and your family throughout the years and miss having you in Florida. We pray every day that god will continue to help you through these hard times. We hope to see you guys soon.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Jamie Cusimano said...

Dear John & Sarah,
I have, as many othes stated, wanted to write numerous times but have never done so. I want to share with you how Jonathan, our 10 almost 11 year old reacted to the news of Ellie’s death. I have read the blog since day one, the only blog I really read, and have shared with Joy, Joseph and Jonathan the pictures, videos and other things along the way. We took a trip out west two summers ago and saw some of the beautiful scenery you are enjoying on a daily basis, we are jealous!
I had read some of the blog to Jonathan Wednesday night before he went to bed and he was very pensive. I lay awake for a long time, and I should remember by now that if I can’t sleep I need to pray and God will bring people to mind. I was just aggravated that I couldn’t sleep, selfish me.
I got up Thursday morning and read your blog through tears as I have often done. I have to sit way back from the key board so I don’t short out the computer!
Jonathan and I were headed out the door and I said,
“Ellie died last night”
Jonathan: Gave me a sour look.
Me: “She gets to spend Christmas with Jesus”
Jonathan: “Lucky!”
Walking out to the car…
Jonathan: “Ellie has hair now…pause…maybe?!”
Me: “There is no more pain.”
Jonathan: giggle of relief, “Yeah”
I always try to remember to listen to my kids as God often speaks to me, and sometimes rebukes me, through them. I try to slow down and smell the roses with them. I linger a little longer at tuck in time at night thanking God for them and grateful for another day with them.
We will miss Ellie. I named a tree in Speer Park after her. As she went through her journey the tree lost its leaves, as Ellie lost her hair, then grew new leaves, as Ellie’s hair grew and then had beautiful pink flowers. I took it as a sign from God that Ellie would get better, and she has, way beyond what we could humanly do for her! It was just not how I thought it would happen.
We will miss playing the car color game with her on the way home from school. My boys always very graciously obliged her and played the game whenever she asked, or I Spy which was another favorite. She had a very infectious personality and was very gentle and loving and giving. I shared this story, bawling the whole time, with Jay and then at school with Jan, Janice and Kay. It was great to celebrated Ellie in that small group. Know that your lives have forever impacted the lives of all who have known you. God’s grace is amazing and will continue to amaze me again and again! Thanks for sharing your lives with us!

Love, Jamie Cusimano, Sanford, Florida

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in Thy word."
-Psalm 119:114

"Unto you therefore which believe
He is the preciousness."
-I Peter 2:7 R.V

love and prayers.

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The heaven above has a beautiful angel. We have the lovely memories of Ellie. In her life, she managed to touch the lives of many people. I will remember her wit, beauty, kindness, sweetness, and generosity. I am honored to have had the chance to meet you. May God grant strength to the Skees Family during such a difficult time in their live. Love Maria NYC

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous dee said...

I am so impressed with how you chose to guide Ethan through the harshest reality that Ellie had gone home. I view that as a clear answer from God to my prayers daily for you and John for wisdom in parenting both children through this. HE IS SO GOOD.
Thank you for giving us such specific prayer requests, and for keeping in touch. We are continuing to pray for your family a bajillion times a day!

Dee (Petry)

P.S. My five year old daughter, Dani, just came in and asked me if she could have a piece of a candy bar. I told her she could have the whole thing. She says,"Woohoo!" and skipped away. She's a pretty smart girl, I wonder if she'll pick up on the fact that when I'm here on your blog spot she can get just about anything out of me! Ha!

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous kristi corley said...

John and Sarah,
You all are very close to our hearts and in our prayers daily. Alexandria has had many questions, but has taken the news much better than I thought. Thank you for mentioning her in the prayer requests.
The other day when a rocket was launching at Kennedy Space Center, Alex piped right up and said, "You know, Ellie has the best view of all!" :) Alex is just certain that Ellie is talking Jesus's ear off, then taking breaks to do some special ballet dances!! :)
I can't wait to give you a hug and sit down with a cup of coffee.
Love you,

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your whole story has been amazing. Thank you for sharing so openly with all of us. Although we may not know exactly what it is, we do know that God has a very special and specific plan for your family, especially Ethan. You have amazed me with your strength, which I know can only have come from God. May you feel His comfort as you face the days ahead.
With God's Love, Nancy Riley

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sleep in Heavenly Peace dear Skees family.

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous zizzle said...

I have only just read about your precious daughter and have tears in my eyes. What a brave and courageous family you are. I pray that you will all take comfort in knowing that Ellie is now with her heavenly Father, free from all pain and sickness and is looking down at you all with so much love. I am sending hugs to you all from Australia and only wish that i could be there to give you one in person. My thoughts will be with you as you lay your little girl to rest.

At 5:59 PM, Blogger Robin said...

I think this was meant for you to see...It's not anything you don't already know, but it's so powerful coming from a child.
You may have to paste in in your browser..sorry.
Many will greet you in heaven as they will be there because of Ellie's and your testimony...what a witness you've all been.
May our God envelop you with His peace and hope as you begin the long journey of healing.
Thank you for your willingness to be so obedient and sharing.

At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, John, Ethan, & all the family.
I am Charlie Carpenter's sister ELIZABETH ANN that "Ellie" shared my name. I only met you & the 2 children that March 2003 day at the Barbecue Resturant where we ate with your grandparents, Jim & Jean. Your Mother Nancy was in Korea speaking for NT Misson & I was disappointed that I didn't get to meet her.
I too have read the blogs off & on & I have shedd alot of tears for you & the family. Knowing she is with your Dad Dave Mankins is very comforting. Ellie touched many many lives in life & at her death! May heaven have more souls there because of her life!
I have been lifting all of you up in prayer since I received the e-mail from Charlie Carpenter, my brother.
Love Elizabeth Ann Redman, (Liz & Boop to my family! )vprwcxyf

At 7:20 PM, Blogger dondee said...

Dear John, Sarah and Ethan,

Please know that many here in Northern Calif. are praying for you - especially the folks at Clear Lake Baptist Church in Lakeport. Ellie has been a special little girl for whom we've been praying this past year. We are saddened with you, and yet rejoicing with you that she is now with Jesus! She will be spending her Christmas with Him - He Who is the reason we can celebrate each year! We send our love, Don and Dee Wilcox (friends of Sarah's Mom, Nancy)

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Rocks In My Dryer said...

You don't know me at all, but I somehow stumbled across your story a few days ago. My son is the same age as your sweet girl, and my heart aches for you beyond words. All I know to say to you is that I pray for you when I think of you, which is often. And it may be terribly cold comfort to you know, but be assured that GOD is being glorified through your precious family, right at this moment.

At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John and Sarah,
We have prayed for Ellie and you all this last year and a half. I woke up Thursday morning and Thanked the Lord she would make it through Christmas only to find out a little later that she didn't. Then I realized that she is going to have a wonderful Christmas. She will be with the Reason for the Season. How awesome is that! I know you will miss her deeply. Praise God she is better and you have the hope of seeing her in Heaven. She is the most joyful girl I've ever seen. I loved watching her videos and seeing her pictures and reading her stories. Please know your prayer request are lifted up. May the Lord continue to give you the strength, comfort, peace, and grace you need.
Nancy Martens, GA

At 9:28 PM, Anonymous rose said...

Dear Sarah and John,
I wanted to let you know that we are thinking about you and praying for you. We just found out today about Ellie because a dear friend of ours has just passed away. We just said goodbye to a very dear friend and mentor today, so I have cried most of the day and now the night. Ellie beat him home by one day, they are now both rejoicing I'm sure.
Your honesty of feeling relief that it is all over probably comes as a shock to some but is a real feeling when you have watch your child suffer so. I understand and had forgotten that I felt the same with our Grace until you mentioned it.
We are grieving with you and for you and may you find God's comfort and grace during this time.
Love, Darryl and Rose Bolden

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John and Sarah,
There are a million things I wish I could say to help ease your pain. All I can say is that my family and I are definitely praying for both of you and especially Ethan. So many people have been reached as a result of your little girl. All the hugs we can possibly give from our family to yours.
<3 Sarah and the rest of the Harmon family

At 6:41 AM, Blogger Kate said...

Dearest ones,
Praying for y'all...rejoicing in Ellie's quick homegoing, crying with you over the hole that precious angel has left in all the hearts of those who knew her personally and from your blog! May the God of ALL comfort wrap His big warm gentle arms of love around you all as a family and give you peace as you rest on Him.

Much love and prayers,
Kari Schmidt

p.s. we live in MD but so wish to attend Ellie's service...we'll be there in spirit!

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Our family is praying for you. We are glad the God can be a God of all comfort! You have been a witness of God's love by sharing your heart.

The Lord's Best!

Phil and Janelle Sutton

At 3:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your story is amazing.It has made me stop and hug both of my daughters. It has allowed me to feel your pain and realize what is important. Thank you so much for your honesty and for sharing. I will pray for your family. Juliet Pederson

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you again for allowing our family to be a part of your life over the last year. Ellie has become a permanent part of our lives and prayers. Your family has been a true testimony to the word Faith - I think perhaps if we looked up the definition, we would see your names there. We will continue to pray for your family including you, John, Ethan, Loretta and everyone else. I wrote a poem for a friend of mine that I would like to share with you.

The time has come to say goodbye, please don’t worry and do not cry;
For a better place I have gone to now, no pain no suffering as before “Him” I bow;
I know you will miss me and I will miss you;
Remember me often in all that you say and do;
Grieve if you must, but please don’t grieve for long;
I’m soaring through Heaven on the angels' wings, singing God’s songs;
I rejoice in the knowledge that I will see you again;
Until then know that I will love you forever and ever, Amen.

We would love to be at the Florida service if we are in town. We'll get the details from Jenn.

Much love, the McBrooms


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