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 18, 2008

Ellie's been in Heaven for ONE YEAR

Thank you so much for participating in our week of giveaways! You've all been great. We drew the final name out of the hat this morning. The person who will be receiving the Ellie pillow is...

Amy Merrill from Davenport, Florida

This was her comment:

"You and your family have been a part of my life for more years than you realize. I have never met you or Ellie but my daughter, Lorenza, had lunch with Ellie when she was about 5. My mom met up with Stan for lunch somewhere on the outskirts of Orlando (Sanford I believe - it has been many years and my memory fails me). My mom knows him from church - she attends the chapel at NAS Mayport. Once Ellie was diagnosed, my mom told me about the blog and reminded me about Lorenza and Ellie having that meal. My daughter will be 10 in January (I have a wonderful son as well who turned 4 in July). I have read and kept up with your blog ever since. But you are more intertwined in my life than that lunch Lorenza had with Ellie or my mom knowing Stan. Lorenza's dad is Colombian. On our first family trip to Colombia my mom told me the story of a missionary that was taken from Panama by Colombian rebels and how the church was praying for him each week. She was petrified of my going to Colombia - especially with Lorenza who had just turned 2. It was through your blog I realized who that missionary was. The last little link was discovered last year. My husband of five years and I had started to get back in touch with people we had gone to high school with and my husband reconnected with one of his very good friends from high school who had married his high school girlfriend. As my family spent time with their family, my mom asked me if I knew the wife's maiden name - my mom thought maybe she could remember her from high school. I said 'her name was Hope Skees and my mom responded 'As in Ellie Skees???' I later confirmed with Hope that she is indeed related to John.

Your blog has made me smile. It has made me cry. There were times when I could not understand the magnitude or difficulty of the decisions you were making. I am, by nature, a very private person and have never commented before but I felt compelled to write this evening. Ellie has touched so many lives. I continue to marvel at your family’s ability to cope with this loss.

Now that I have said all that I find I am suddenly at a loss for words. I just want you to know that Ellie has touched so many peoples lives and I wanted to thank you for allowing us to share your life."

Congratulations, Amy! Thank you so much for your comment... it really is a small world. I am so thankful that you have chosen to walk this journey with us. Thank you for that. Please email me with your address and I will send you your pillow!

I will be mailing out all of the prizes on Monday. :-)

Edith "Mema" Tyler has so graciously agreed to share with us all on this very special day. I'm sure that you will be as touched and filled up to the brim with the love of God as I am! I just wanted to first say how blessed I have been by all of the incredible comments you have left. Mema mentions how she has also taken comfort from comments over the course of this journey that we have traveled together. That is the reason why I wanted to have a guest blogger on this day. We have all been knit together into a little community on this blog. You have gotten to know one another through the messages that you leave. I believe that nothing honors God more than when we love one another. And in that same spirit, it is the very thing that we can do to honor Ellie's memory as well! My Ellie girl's greatest desire in life was for those that she loved to live in harmony one with the other.

Please welcome our guest blogger, Mema!

Lamentations 3:21-26
"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeked him. It is good that a man (woman) should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."

Micah 7:8
"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: for when I fall I shall arise; when I sit in darkness the Lord will be a light unto me."

Romans 8:18
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Yesterday as I thought about this special honor I did not know what to share, so let me start with Ellie. I first heard about Ellie from my daughter-in-law Laura Tyler (Wingo) whose parents are missionaries with New Tribes. She called and told me to pray for Ellie and sent the blog site. At that time I had no idea the impact Ellie and her family would have on my life. I shared with the adult Sunday School class I teach about Ellie and we put her on our prayer list. The girls at work have prayed for Ellie many times and have sat and cried with me as I have read and experienced the journey with you and others. From the first time I read the blog I was overwhelmed with sadness that a mother and father would probably lose their daughter to cancer. As I followed the journey I was always rejoicing when Ellie would bounce back after being in ICU. The pictures, thoughts and experiences that were shared spoke volumes of the Lord and the amazing grace and strength He put into your lives. Mostly I believe I have loved the pictures and videos of Ellie dancing. That is where I adopted the phrase, "I will sing when I do not feel like singing and dance when I do not feel like dancing." What a beautiful sight to behold as Ellie would swirl around to the music and at those moments I felt like she could feel hope, joy, and peace. Lost in the movement, the sound and rhythm of the music. That always is how I feel when I can sit back against the Lord and feel His heartbeat and drink from His cup. Well Ellie is doing just that. Only now her dance and song is one the Angels can not do because it is the dance of the "REDEEMED!" What a wonder she must be to the Lord as He watches her in His presence. Dance on Ellie!!!

What you have shared is to numerous to tell how it has impacted not just my life but others. I have lost my Dad to cancer, my grandmother (my friend and confidant) and my sister, Sarah who took her life 5 years ago. Of all these losses, Sarah was my greatest. She was my friend, a part of me that is now missing. After a long time of depression and being diagnosed with MS, she told me, "I will love you till I die." and the next day I got the call. As tragic as it is, I know that God has been merciful and kind and allowed me to stay sheltered in Him. I do not know how to grieve for her, but many times in reading your blog I have thought, that is how I feel. Your insight to what you feel and your honesty has helped me tremendously. Sharing your pain, grief, joys, the lows and highs, the posts of others, and your ability to write has increased my faith and trust in the Lord, my Savior.

Watching the last hours of Ellie's life, seeing them, and reading the post are forever imprinted in my mind. Not in a bad way, but a hopeful way. As I too want to see the Lord one day. Ellie will forever live in our hearts, with and without hair. Your honesty and insight with your son, Ethan and the way he related and still carries Ellie in his life, and the pain and strength of your husband will forever give us hope and strength. One of my favorite pictures is of Ellie lying on her Dad's back, and Ethan when he shaved his head. They are bonded and will one day get to dance together in Heaven.

So on the day of Ellie's death, there is life! She will forever live on in my heart, and I will always remember to dance. Thank you for allowing me the honor of sharing your daughter, your family and your life. May God bless you, John and Ethan with His unending love, peace and grace. May He give you comfort and peace on this day. May in your tears, you also have joy and in your pain, have healing in Christ. And one day you too will dance before the Lord.

With much love and Prayers,
Edith (Mema) Tyler
South Carolina

There is nothing more that I can add to that. But I would like to finish this post off by giving you one more message. This one is from Ellie.

Back in October, 2007, after we came back from NY where we discovered that the cancer was growing again, Ellie was having difficulty sleeping one night. I put some music on her little MP3 player and she lay there listening to it with headphones on. She was lying between John and me. Her dad was fast asleep, and I was desperately wishing to be. But Ellie kept wiggling and poking buttons on the player. And then she put the headphones on me and made me listen to two songs. She said "Mommy, I want you to put these on the blog." One of them was Celine Dion's "A New Day" and I gave that one to you just after she died. I promised Ellie that I would share the songs with you, and I have been saving this one for just the right moment.

It is Amy Grant's "Lead Me On." I found it of great interest that the song makes direct reference to the suffering of the Jews, God's chosen people. It talks about their years in slavery as well as the horrors of the Holocaust. Ellie really didn't understand all of that. But something in this song spoke to her little heart that night - I think that she identified with the suffering and fear of death, and looked to the hope of eventual freedom being offered.

So here it is, as I promised Ellie, her special message to you:

Written by Michael W. Smith

Shoulder to the wheel
For someone else's selfish gain
Here there is no choosing
Working the clay
Wearing their anger like a ball and chain.

Fire in the field
Underneath a blazing sun
But soon the sun was faded
And freedom was a song
I heard them singing when the day was done
Singing to the holy One.

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh.

Lead me on
Lead me on
The awaited deliverance
Comforts the seeking...lead on.

Waiting for the train
Labeled with a golden star
Heavy hearted boarding
Whispers in the dark
"Where are we going--is it very far?"

Bitter cold terrain
Echoes of a slamming door
In chambers made for sleeping, forever
Voices like thunder in a mighty roar
Cry to the Lord.

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh.

Lead me on
Lead me on
The awaited deliverance
Comforts the seeking...lead on.

Man hurts man
Time and time, time again
And we drown in the wake of our power
Somebody tell me why.

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh.

Lead me on
Lead me on
The awaited deliverance
Comforts the seeking...lead on.


At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The beauty of Ellie's life and impact of her sweet and thoughtful ways will always be a part of so many people.

As the Superchick song goes.....there will be beauty from pain...Not the method any of us would have chosen to see the reflection of his Glory and Goodness, but Goodness and Light is coming from this!

May your hearts be surrounded and bundled in an infinite amount of peace and grace today!



At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing post to pay tribute to the first year of Ellie in heaven. The contributor's posts were awe-inspiring and heartfelt. The music is beautiful...what a post! Thanks and may you feel comfort today and every day. I love you and THANKS so much for the gift of this blog...Sheri

At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are thinking of you all and praying for you today. We love you and miss you so much. Congratulations to all the winners. There is a little bit of jealousy happening here in our house.
What a wonderful post from Mema. That first passage from Lamentations is one of my favorites. Your post not only was beautifully written but is encouraging as well. Thank you. I am sure John and Sarah loved what you wrote as well.

Love you my friends,

At 3:32 PM, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

Our Ellie just lives in heaven but each of us seems to have a bit of her in our lives also. Mema did a fabulous job sharing her heartpiece of Ellie - thank you so much. Funny how so many very different people are all tied together in Ellie's (and Sarah and John and Ethan's) story. Thanks for saying what many of us haven't the words for. Bless you.
Thank you also, Sarah - -we just keep getting great music from your girl don't we?

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Jackie Davis said...

Amazing, it is today to celebrate the life of Ellie here and her life in Heaven. I have vision of her dancing (from the videos i've seen) in Heaven, flowing so beautiful! I am also excited for Amy for winning the pillow. I too am from FL and had a NAS Chapel connection as well as another missionary connection back to your family. SO amazing the connections Ellie has made on Earth. To bind us in faith in God. Your family has been and is being used for God's glory, Thank you for stepping in faith through online journalling. I pray it's been healing and therapy and not added to any burdens. You are amazing!

Thanks for Mema's post and also, Thank you Ellie for sharing that song, it was beautiful. Thank you Sarah, for saving it for this time to share too! Just beautiful!

Jackie and family
Residents of FL
Serving in Guatemala

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous kristen miller said...

that was beautiful, 'mema'! it's so awesome to see how far-reaching the impact of this little girl has been. it's great to hear first-hand from people through all these comments about the ways God is touching people through her. thanks, sarah for this opportunity to hear all this!

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mema I love the first scripture that you used in your entry. He is our hope even when our circumstances seem hopeless. Ellie is a constant reminder of that for me. Sarah I just want to thank you for making this time so special for all us that love Ellie.

At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been thinking of you all today (even as I got a haircut from Cece!). In some ways it's hard to believe that Ellie's been in heaven for a year, in some ways it feels like a very long time.

Thanks Mema for sharing. You obviously can relate to John and Sarah in their loss because of the losses in your life. But you can also relate to God's grace and strength to those who lean on Him. God bless you!

Love all you out there in MT!

Kim D.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

Hi Sarah, Amy and Mema,

Thanks for writing and posting the songs.

Learning to dance here.


At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Jen Johnson said...

Normally any comment that I leave is directed toward Sarah. As I was driving today, I was thinking about Sarah. The one year anniversary and Sarah's comment contest. With that being said......I now turn this to the many faithful followers that visit Ellie's site on a monthly, weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly basis.
Over the last year I have had the honor of spending time with Sarah as she lives at the east end of our property. I went over one day, Ellie's birthday to be exact, and picked up Sarah so that we could enjoy a quiet lunch while everyone climbed mountains in Glacier. Just as we were walking out the door she said, "I need to check one last time before I leave for any comments."
She was almost giddy with excitement that she could read a few. We went about our day and it was then that I realized that these comments that we leave on this blog.....they are some of the little things that get her through the day. The hurt that is present in the Skees family, it might stay the same but the spirit can be lifted by words. Your words and your prayers.
I love reading everyones comments and have really enjoyed getting to know this week who everyone is and how they know or know of Ellie.
I just wanted to thank you all for the love you shower my dear friend with. I couldn't imagine facing their journey alone. What wonderful people they are surrounded by! With that said......goodnight John, Sarah, Ethan and all your extended family and friends! We love you dearly!
Hi Sheri!

At 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, this day has come... and the tribrute was beautiful! Mema, you are so eloquent... I'm so jeaulous, I thought it was just unique to Sarah to be able to express so well, but now I see there are others who can, it's just not me! I love the scriptures you chose to share, inspiring... Lamentations stands out to me, "we are not consumed". My son, Neal, expressed so well how this effected our whole family... but we did not get CONSUMED.

It is such a blessing to see how many were brought together through this ordeal, are family only grew stronger and larger!

I am so sorry for your losses, Mema. It is good to know that they didn't consume you either, and you let the Lord shelter you and let His grace get you through. I'm thankful He brought you here and you are part of our family now. Thank you so much for your sharing, what a brave and beautiful thing... and thank you for loving our Ellie, and letting her live on in your heart.

It seems once again God has had His hand in this... Why, Sarah, do I still get amazed? After being in NY while Ellie was in the ICU and experiencing the Grace of God and how in control He was... Why would it amaze me that God has orchestrated all this and brought so many people here, by so many different ways? Just like the quilt, it is Awesome, His attention to details!

I like the song Nick quoted from Superchick, but there is another version that says, "beauty from ashes"

All my love to you, John and Ethan,

Aunt B

At 11:32 AM, Blogger Tricia said...

Mema, Thank you for sharing how Ellie has touched your life.

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

How beautiful, especially the music - I have included the song "Wintersong" in a video just created called "Christmas Tribute to Childhood cancer angels" in which Ellie is featured. The link is:
I hope you like it.

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your beautiful post Mema! It is always incredibly touching to see how many lives and hearts Ellie has touched. Thank you for sharing your journey and losses, it is very brave to "put yourself ou there". I am not sure I could have been so brave and I know I could not have been as eloquent! Keep on dancing!

God Bless,
Aunt Kathy

At 8:48 AM, Blogger Jennifer Wiser said...

This week of your posting has been such a blessing to us. Scott and I are on a small overnight trip for our anniversary and I just read him some of the weeks entries - and cried all over again. I, like so many others, feel like I know you and Ellie. I wish I could give you a great big hug today.

Scott and I laughed when you mentioned the cinnamon rolls from the freezer to the toaster oven, because that is so me. I prefer simple and easy. We are also remeinded of the death of our sweet baby girl 4 years ago. Although she was born prematurely, and we only had her for a few short hours, you have helped us tremendously in learning how to let go, and still hang on, to love and remember, to move ahead and still honor with love and tears, laughter, and sadness.

I feel like we have so much in common. You and I separated by so many miles, but bonded through the heart by the love of Christ, the death of a daughter, the journey of a child with cancer, and the journeys that come later in dealing with all the feelings and emotions that come with a life of void without your child. And finally, the love that we have of not baking or even cooking too much :-) (oh and the relatives in NTM too)

I was so happy that you commented on my blog which I don't keep up with too well, but every now and then. I do better at FB. I couldn't figure out how to email you - so I'm going to leave my email address here and have you email me and then I'll send you my address. I look forward to hearing from you.


At 9:43 PM, Anonymous themclauchlins said...

Thank you, Mema, for sharing your heart with us.
I struggle with what else to say.. There are so many thoughts and emotions, but I have such a hard time finding the right words. I think I need a good Thesaurus. ;)
Many Blessings, Angela

At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Jen Johnson said...

Happy Snowy Monday Skees Family!

At 8:34 PM, Blogger oneofhisfriends said...

So, I understand you have snow and cold up there.



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