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Fisher of Men

Joy Belongs to Us All: Candace Payne and Ellie Holcomb

Joy Belongs to Us All: Candace Payne and Ellie Holcomb

Today’s guests, author and internet sensation Candace Payne and singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb, are invested in finding joy each day and showing others that they too can find joy, even during the most difficult seasons. Candace has a joy that is infectious. Her viral video of trying on a Star Wars Chewbacca mask is one of the most viewed Facebook videos of all time. Candace has written a new book called Simple Joys, where she helps readers connect with joy that is all around us. Today she tells us about the unlikely places she has found joy in her life, about her evolving faith, and how each of us can obtain the joy God has for us on a daily basis. Ellie began her musical career by touring the country with her husband in the Americana band, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Her latest projects include a children’s book and music EP, both titled Who Sang the First Song? Ellie talks to us about how she tries to bring joy through her music to those who are hurting, and her heart for sharing the truths of God’s Word with others.

Candace Payne: Ecclesiastes tells us there is a season for everything under heaven. It doesn’t say there is a season for joy—live it up!—and not sorrow. It says there’s a season to laugh and there’s a season to mourn.

Joy Belongs to Us All: Candace Payne and Ellie Holcomb – Jesus Calling Episode #121

Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today’s guests are invested in finding joy each day and showing others that they too can find joy, even during the most difficult seasons: Candace Payne and Ellie Holcomb.

First up, we have author and internet sensation Candace Payne. Candace has a joy that is infectious. Her viral video of trying on a Star Wars Chewbacca mask is one of the most viewed Facebook videos of all time. Candace has written a new book called Simple Joys, where she helps readers connect with joy that is all around us. Today she tells us about the unlikely places she has found joy in her life, about her evolving faith, and how each of us can obtain the joy God has for us on a daily basis.

Chewbacca Mom, Candace Payne as featured on the Jesus Calling podcastCandace Payne: My name is Candace Payne. You may know me as Chewbacca Mom, and that does not mean that I’ve had a cameo in any of the Star Wars films, nor that I’m hairy and have an issue with body hair. That’s not what it means. I went viral for posting a video of myself laughing with a toy Chewbacca mask in my car about a couple of years ago. And because of that, that really opened up some doors for me to do some incredible things I couldn’t have done otherwise.

Before the end of this year, I will have already authored three books and a Bible study curriculum, and a study guide to accompany that. I will have spoken many different places. I’ve done some TV interviews and some fun stuff, but I’m also going on tour this fall with Mandisa. I’m going to sing a little bit, speak a little bit, and host the event. It’s going to be fun.

Finding Joy Early in Life

I’ve said this a hundred times since the video went viral. A lot of people have reached out to me trying to find, “How do you have joy? Where’s that laugh that I could have? I haven’t laughed like that in years.” And what I’ve discovered is a lot of people don’t know how to weaponize joy. We just don’t know how to make it something that we’ll fight back with whatever life throws at us.

From a young age I think I was afforded that in a really really odd circumstance, and I wouldn’t trade for anything. I learned what it was like to fight back with joy.

I was born in Wyoming. And by the time I was six months, we left, so I remember absolutely nothing about it. The last time that I counted, I went to more than 20 elementary schools, and I was always the new kid. That meant either I was a wonder and a mystery to my peers, or somebody to poke fun of. So peer relationships were always hard for me as a child.

“I went to more than 20 elementary schools, and I was always the new kid. That meant either I was a wonder and a mystery to my peers, or somebody to poke fun of.” – Candace Payne

And in all honesty, we just battled poverty all growing up. When I was 9, I found myself homeless, living with my family in a van in an RV spot, taking coin showers, just living in my own world with my dog Baby and making it day to day.

Actually, I believe when I was homeless as a child is when I really discovered what joy was. I knew I shouldn’t have been as happy as I was, and I knew that circumstances seemed much different than my friends. But I also knew that I had a family, regardless if I had a home. And we all laughed together. We all shared stories together at the end of the day. We all still made fun of each other. I mean, it was one of those things where I knew this wasn’t going to be my life forever, and I remember finding real joy in the middle of that.

“When I was homeless as a child, [that’s] when I really discovered what joy was.” Candace Payne

The #1 Thing That Steals Joy

I’ve got to be honest with you. The video itself made me question everything about my personality. Because now I have people thinking that I just laugh like that at the drop of a hat, and I don’t.

If I find people in an airport, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, do the laugh!”

And I’m like, “This is my real laugh, [the Chewbacca mask laugh] is rare. I’m sorry.”

If it goes too far, which I’m glad it didn’t in the video, [my laugh] kind of sounds like a duck quacking. So I’m really glad that there was a moment that was stopped.

But I feel as though for me, this unlocked the idea of, Okay, why do I have joy? What’s something I undervalued about the joy that I have? And it really has led me down a path of self-discovery that I’m honestly in the middle of.

I would tell you a year ago the thing that tries to steal my joy is basically what everybody else’s. Not enough time. Not enough ambition. Sometimes I don’t really want to get things done, so I just feel lazy I’m going to sit and binge-watch a show.

What I’ve been discovering on this journey to really figure out who I am, the thing that always is a joy killer for me is insecurity. And you know, I even hate saying that word out loud and admitting it, but it’s truth. It is authentic. Insecurity steals my joy every single time, whether I feel like I don’t belong in a group that I’ve been invited into, whether I feel like I’ve got to overtalk to oversell myself so somebody will know that I’m valuable and that I’m worth it. Or whether I find myself feeling as though, Man, my kids, they’re just sucking it up again at school. Why am I getting this note for the fifth time from the same teacher? I feel like such a horrible mother. It’s all these insecurities that make me take my eyes off the fact that I can have joy in the middle of this [feeling of], I’m not doing anything right.

“What I’ve been discovering on this journey to really figure out who I am, the thing that always is a joy killer for me is insecurity.” – Candace Payne

I think everybody, if you really take an honest assessment of the thing that’s killing your joy, it’s that. It’s insecurity, where you don’t feel like you’re good enough, that you’re prepared enough, that you’re qualified enough, that you can do it. And at some point, I have to realize that Jesus knows me as “Candace that is seated with Him in the heavenlies.” I’m not just “Candace here in 2018.” He sits outside of time. He is the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He knows the Candace I’m going to be, [the one] that stands with him. And any time I need to know that Candace exists, I just call on Him and I say, “Let’s download that again.” And my insecurities are shattered, and I find joy in everything that I’m setting my foot to that day.

When you don’t struggle with, Am I good enough, qualified enough, whatever, and you see yourself through a right lens of how Christ sees you, you can do anything with joy—anything with joy.”

Embracing Simple Joys

Narrator: Candace is passionate about helping others tap into joy and the full life God has planned for them. She talks about this in her new book Simple Joys.

Candace Payne - Simple Joys book coverCandace Payne: Listen, people all day long can hear my story and how I’m happy. And you know what? You know what the response is going to be? “Well, good for her. Good for her.” But this is where you move beyond that and you say, “This is how you discover wonder in your everyday.”

I want people, when they read Simple Joys, to laugh. But more than that, I’ve given them places where they can journal, where they can answer the question that will give them a new tool.

I’ve taken and reduced so many of my life experiences to eight tiny stories that I believe have gold around them.

I tell you from the very beginning of Simple Joys, you are prospecting for gold. And that gold, in this book, is joy, and you are prospecting for the joy for your life.

You know when you lose a phone, you go crazy looking for it right. You’re like, Oh my gosh, it has everything I need in it. And I think so many people have lost their joy and don’t even care to realize that they need look for it again. So I want people to prospect for joy in a way they didn’t even think possible. And this book, it’s small, it’s colorful, it’s cute. But I’m telling you, that’s just to pull you in because it’s mighty and it’s powerful and it will give you a skill set that you didn’t even know you needed.

“Feel everything and fear nothing.”

I honestly think the most unlikely place I have found joy was walking through my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s with her.

It is a nasty, nasty disease. You find a relative that you love that can’t even remember your name, or remember how to go the restroom.

I was helping care for her, and my grandmother was one of those that was kind of too good for watching dirty shows on TV. And I walked in and saw her seeing Jerry Springer in its heyday.

And y’all, I just said, “Grandma, do you want me to change the channel for you?”

She goes, “No.”

I said, “Oh, you’re watching you’re watching this?”

And she goes, “I know what they’re doing.”

I said, “Do you know what they’re doing?”

She goes, “Shh. Watching my show.”

I mean, I knew that her mind wasn’t there to process it. But I remember thinking then—that was in my early 20s—that is a memory I will take with me forever, of how much that that was so counter to her normal personality and how much I laughed and laughed and laughed with her. And yet I shouldn’t have felt that in that moment. And I do believe I found joy in unlikely places, even through the ugliest disease I’ve ever seen hit my family.

I am somebody that’s a 7 on the Enneagram. So for me, this makes a good platform because joy is a natural subject for me that I embrace. But I have to tell you something. I also discovered that I didn’t want to press into pain, because I didn’t think that joy was there either. But what I’m learning right now is absolutely it is vital to take those seasons that are mandated for lament, for mourning, to press into that pain because there is joy unspeakable on the other side.

“What I’m learning right now is, absolutely, it is vital to take those seasons that are mandated for lament, for mourning, [and] to press into that pain because there is joy unspeakable on the other side.” – Candace Payne

The spirit of God gave me four words when I was praying, because I honestly have been going through one of those as well. Very personally, something’s happening in my life. I can’t talk about it publicly, but I tell you I come to the throne of God. You know what the four words He told me were? “Feel everything and fear nothing. Feel everything and fear nothing.” He is the one that controls it all.

“I [came] to the throne of God. You know what the four words He told me were? ‘Feel everything and fear nothing.’” – Candace Payne

“The Joy of the Lord Is for Every Single One of Us.”

Candace Payne hosting an incredible night with @uheroes that rescues trafficked women and children! What great work and freedom they bring!!I’m going to be honest: my faith is ever evolving, which I think is almost everybody’s in the world. If you go on a journey to be a follower of Jesus Christ, it changes from day to day. But my first perception of God was very legalistic and very restrictive. As a matter of fact, I was the kid that had to have Grandma sew me some culottes for church camp. And oh my word, like, no mixed bathing. We had all the rules, all the rules.

And so my perception has just changed throughout the years. As a matter of fact, I had this realization, and it was just clear as day: if the scriptures tell us that God collects every single one of our tears, why wouldn’t He want to collect every single one of our laughs as well?

Why wouldn’t He? I’m a good mama, and He’s a good dad. And as a good mama, I look at every photo that I’ve captured of my kids’ smiles. I don’t pull out the ones where they’re throwing a fit at Target. I don’t look at those all day and go, “That’s my baby.” I look at the ones where they’re smiling and they’re so happy.

And what I’ve discovered, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, He says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” That word blessed, when you look at the original connotation, it means happy. He is concerned about my happiness. That piece of my faith is ever evolving, knowing that God cares and He’s concerned for how happy I am on a day to day basis, and not feeling shame over that word because sometimes sin feels happy too. It’s disassociating it with the bad, and really taking the perversion of that word to make it something that that is associated with sin and shame and saying, “No. This is from the Lord. Happiness is from the Lord. And here’s what it can look like day to day.”

I’m drawn to places that are free, places that exhibit the joy of the Lord, where you feel and sense the spirit of God. And really, in all honesty, you put denomination labels on anything, and it doesn’t matter. The joy of the Lord is for every single one of us—every single one of us. I think it’s just a matter of lifting up our eyes and acknowledging who’s the Joy Giver and letting Him do a work inside of us. Joy is a byproduct of something else. It’s not something we come up with on our own.

“The joy of the Lord is for every single one of us—every single one of us.” – Candace Payne

Joy Is Not Dependent on Your Circumstances

Narrator: Like so many of us, Candace first heard about Jesus Calling from a friend—and she was intrigued.

Candace Payne Instagram - keeping it SimpleCandace Payne: So I wanted out of curiosity’s sake to see what this book said. And can I tell you, I was blown away by experiencing a tenderness in the voice of God as I read it, a voice that sounded very very familiar to me.

And that book was—I don’t want to get teary, I think I might—that book was transformational in the way that I began listening to the voice of God, and the way that I understood the scripture that says, “My sheep know My voice.” And for the first time, I was hearing a tenderness to my Dad that I’d never heard, and it shaped my faith. It began to shape my faith to really allow me to say, “God, You love me. And You care about my every single day.”

Narrator: Inspired by the theme of her book, Candace reads a devotion about joy from the October 5th entry of Jesus Calling:

Candace Payne: Remember that Joy is not dependent on your circumstances. Some of the world’s most miserable people are those whose circumstances seem the most enviable. People who reach the top of the ladder career-wise are often surprised to find emptiness awaiting them. True Joy is a byproduct of living in My Presence. Therefore you can experience it in palaces in prisons . . . anywhere.

Do not judge a day as devoid of Joy just because it contains difficulties. Instead, concentrate on staying in communication with Me. Many of the problems that clamor for your attention will resolve themselves. Other matters you must deal with, but I will help you with them. If you make problem solving secondary to the goal of living close to Me, you can find joy even in your most difficult days.

The Joy of the Lord Is Attainable for You

At the end of the day, the thing that motivates me is not necessarily being a lady that’s a joy evangelist, or I have one topic and that’s it. The reality is, I believe we’ve all been told a lie that joy is a luxury, that is only given to some people, and it’s only given at one point of your life if things are going just right, and if you please God enough then you get to have it. I feel like we’re so blinded in the church, especially, about what joy really can be and what it should be.

There are scriptures that point us to true joy. One of them is in Psalm 137. It says,

“In his presence is a fullness of joy, and pleasures at his right hand forevermore.”

And we don’t see that as something that’s for all of us. We just say, “I can make it through my day. And then at the end of my days, I hope I’m going to be received in the glory.” At some point you’ve got to go, “Jesus said with his own lips, ‘I’ve come to give you life in that you may have it to the fullest.’”

I think we bring heaven here the moment that we actually live out that full life. And if you believe that from the One that’s giving pleasures forevermore, then it starts here. It doesn’t start after.

And so my whole desire is to see people not just see kindness from me. “Oh, she’s so sweet. That’s a sweet lady that’s happy.” I want them to see the joy of the Lord is attainable for you.

Narrator: Candace’s new book Simple Joys is available wherever books are sold.

Narrator: Stay with us to hear about a wonderful Jesus Calling gift for your friends and family this holiday season.

Jesus Calling Christmas 2018 bundle from Christian Book DistributorsHi, this is Mark Lowry. And I want to tell you about a great offer from Jesus Calling and Christian Book Distributors. When you buy the brand new Jesus Calling Christmas Devotional, you’ll get a beautiful tote bag, a package of Christmas cards, a mug and a Handel’s Messiah music CD, all for only $19.95, while supplies last. Go to And while you’re there, be sure to check out my book-CD combo, Mary, Did You Know?

It’s on special for only $5.00!Mark Lowry's Mary Did You Know Book with CD

Narrator: Our next guest is singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb. Ellie began her music career by touring the country with her husband in the Americana band, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Her honest voice and rich lyrics shined on her first solo album and deemed her the Best New Artist at the 2014 Dove Awards. Her latest projects include a children’s book and music EP, both titled Who Sang the First Song? Ellie talks to us about how she endeavors to bring joy through her music to those who are hurting, and her heart for sharing the truths of God’s Word with others.

Ellie Holcomb: I’m Ellie Holcomb and I am a wife, a mama of two, and I’m a singer/songwriter. My husband calls me a “modern-day psalmist.” I get to make music, and play with kids. I actually make music when I’m home. And when I go home, I always sing.

Learning to Build a Bridge with Music

Ellie Holcomb as featured on the Jesus Calling podcsatI grew up right here in Nashville, Tennessee. My dad is a music producer in the CCM world. Amy Grant was in his youth group, so he actually produced all her first albums and kind of fell into the production world. So I kind of grew up here in studios in Nashville.

I am the oldest of five kids, and it was . . . I’ll just say it was never boring. My mom and dad say when I was little, I kind of acted like life was a musical. I’ve always just been singing my way through.

I learned how to play the guitar in seventh grade, and I started writing songs as a high schooler. I remember when I was learning the guitar and practicing, it was not very fun. And then I realized you could put all these chords together and learn to play a song, which is a little bit duh. But I just remember being like, Oh my goodness, I can use this thing to sing. And so I started writing songs, and I started writing songs out of God’s Word.

I went to the University of Tennessee. I would be in the stairwell of my dorm room, and I just would be playing these heartbreak songs so I wouldn’t wake up my roommate, and it also sounded really great in the stairwell. I would play the songs and have my eyes closed, and inevitably girls would end up lining up in the stairwell. And a lot of them would be crying. And then what would inevitably happen is they would sit down and just because I played a song, they would share their story with me.

I’d say, “Hi, I’m Ellie.”

And they would say, “Thanks for playing that song.”

So I learned in college that that music is a bridge builder, that it connects our stories.

“I learned in college that that music is a bridge builder, that it connects our stories.” – Ellie Holcomb

Holding on to Truth

And fast forward to . . . you know, I swore two things: that I would never marry a musician. Even though I love music, I actually got my master’s in education. I wanted to be a teacher. And I swore that I would never marry a musician, and I swore that I would never marry my best guy friend from college. And the Lord has a sense of humor, because fell in love with my best guy friend who turns out to be a musician, and he convinced me to quit my teaching job to join his band.

The first thing that we did, we went to a Young Life camp. Young Life is a parachurch organization that believes every kid everywhere deserves a chance to hear the gospel in a way that they can understand. And I remember that week, we were playing our music. I saw that week, as we played our songs, it was again a bridge builder. We got to use music to build a bridge so we could hear other people’s stories, and then we could carry them straight to the ultimate bridge builder, Jesus. I called my mom and dad after that week and I said, “I am doing what God made me to do. I’m firing on all cylinders.”

And it’s been a journey from there, but I am so delighted and honored that I get to sit in God’s Word and let music come out and connect with so many people’s stories, and then connect them with the greater story of God’s love for us.

The way that God made me . . . when I sing, I believe it helps me believe if I can sing truth. And so a lot of times, that’s what my songs are, just me sitting in God’s Word and saying, “Okay, Lord. I believe, I know that this is true, but would you help my unbelief?” And for whatever reason, if I can sing it, it really helps me hold onto the truth.

I found a lot of comfort and hope in being able to come as I am, whether it’s with fear or doubt or suffering or questions or just joy and just say, “God, here I am. I feel like a mess. But I am so grateful that because of Jesus, we can come as we are, with all of our mess, before You and pour out our hearts to You.”

Walking the “Red Sea Road”

Ellie Holcomb - Red Sea Road cover artI wrote the “Red Sea Road” out of the season of deep suffering and sorrow and loss, kind of seemingly senseless loss at times. And what I found during that season to be very true, two things gave me so much hope: one, when it felt like I was in a pile of ashes and rubble, when things were felt like they were crashing down around us, and then people that we kind of do live with we were walking through a lot of sorrow with dear friends as well. Everything from cancer diagnosis [of] a dear friend with three young kids, to friends walking through infertility, to friends who had lost little babies, to divorce—really, really hard, painful divorce of dear friends.

And so we had been walking through all of this loss and in a really close amount of time. And I found the Lord to be so near, so faithful.

And then I was writing this record and actually recording this record, and we got that call that nobody’s ever ready for, that the test came back positive and that my dad had cancer. And my dad was actually producing the record. So we were in pre-production, and I remember being so afraid. I mean, I called all my friends who had lost parents and just like grieved with them, just ‘cause I think when it becomes personal, you’re just like, Oh my goodness I cannot imagine losing my dad.

And I’ll never forget: Mom and Dad, a week after the diagnosis, you know in that time when you just have no clue what the journey is going to look like—and I guess none of us really do—but Mom wanted to have a praise and worship night at their house. We all thought she was kind of crazy, but it was her birthday, so she pulled the birthday card and got everybody to come. And I remember I was standing on the edge of the room, really just afraid, feeling fear more than anything else. And I had the privilege of watching my mom and dad run into all of the unknown and all the potential darkness and sorrow ahead of them with their hands raised in the air praising God.

And there is something irresistible about that to me. And I ended up in the middle of the room that night right next to them, praising God and encountering the peace in the presence of God in a way that will mark me for the rest of my life.

Jesus was so near, and I did not want to forget. And so I feel like that’s what David does. He’s like, “Hey, remember. Awake, my soul, remember the Lord is faithful. Where are you, God? Remember, He’s faithful.” And so there is this beautiful kind of self dialogue that happens in the Psalms of light where he’s saying, “Remember what He’s done. Remember what He’s done.”

Ellie Holcomb as feature on the Jesus Calling podcast“Red Sea Road,” for me, it was a record where I wanted to remember who Jesus was in the middle of deep suffering. And He was very near. I remembered and encountered Him as the Man of Sorrows, very well acquainted with grief Himself. And I kind of felt like God’s answer to suffering in some ways is, “Me too. I am with you, and I will never leave you. And the suffering that you’re in the middle of? Because of what Jesus did with the cross and because there’s an empty grave, this isn’t the end of story. One day everything sad is coming untrue.” And that was extremely hope inducing to me.

It’s like God had shown me that He’s faithful through all these things, and He’s like, “Okay. And here it is again, unknown suffering, sickness, hard. And here I am again.”

I wrote a song about a week after this called “Find You Here” that’s on my record out of Philippians 4:4–7:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I’ll say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything and everything, but through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God that transcends all of our understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I am just so grateful that He took me deeper in and higher up. And I guess that’s what He continues to do with us. He loves us enough not to leave us as we are.

Dad is in remission now, which we’re so grateful for. We know that’s not the end of every cancer story, and we know that in our own family. We’ve lost family members to cancer. But man, I love the posture of hope that Mom and Dad took as they walked through that, because it wasn’t a hope that ignored the suffering or pretended like it wasn’t there. It was a hope that looked at the suffering dead in their eyes and said, “We see you. But Jesus died on the cross, and He walked out of the grave. And we know that this suffering isn’t the end of our story, ultimately.” And I’m so grateful for that tangible experience of that hope over and over again.

The Lord is near. He is with you, and He’s not ever going to leave you. He’s not going to ever forsake you. And I would say words that I have cherished from Beth Moore. [She] says, “The power of the gospel is that the only thing that was meant to be empty is the grave.” Jesus has been where you are. He’s with you. He’s walked out of it, and He will walk you through this. You’re not alone.

“The Lord is near. He is with you, and He’s not ever going to leave you.” – Ellie Holcomb

“I didn’t know it could be so easy to enjoy the presence of God.”

Ellie Holcomb as featured on the Jesus Calling podcastThere are two older women in my life who I know through the ministry of Young Life, and they live down in Franklin, [Tennessee]. I had been praying for a long time for an older woman—my mom and my mother-in-law are both amazing, but sometimes you just want some other people to pour into you.

And I remember Eve Sarrett came up to me at a Young Life camp—and the camp was in Asheville, North Carolina, but she’s from Nashville. She’s on Young Life staff here in Nashville. And she said, “Hey, I live in Nashville, and you live in Nashville. What would you say if we hung out sometimes and you would  just let me pour Jesus into you?” And I was so awkward because I been praying for that, and I just started sobbing. And she was like, “Is that a yes?”

But I remember I went down to their house, and they handed me Jesus Calling. And they said, “We want to give this to you. And we just want to encourage you.”

I call myself a “recovering perfectionist” and so I always want to know exactly what to do and what do I say and what do I write. And they said, “We actually don’t want you to do much with this. We want you to read it, and then we want you to ask the Spirit to come. Maybe it will be one word that stands out to you, and you just sit in His presence and your ask the Lord to speak to you. Maybe it’s just that one word, and maybe there’s not even any word at all, but you just sit in that truth.”

And it started for me a transformative practice of listening, of sitting in God’s Word—which I love that Sarah writes in a personal way but then grounds it in God’s Word as well. And sometimes I’d look up the scripture, and I would sit in that scripture, and one word from the scripture [would stand out.] And I’m like, This is so easy. I didn’t know it could be so easy to just enjoy the presence of God.

It was such a gift for me that I felt like I needed to always understand, always everything about the scripture. And there is a time and a place for that, certainly, for great theology and studying God’s Word. But man, I really feel like this is a book that helped me sit in His presence and learn to decipher His voice, and then go back in scripture and see, Oh yeah, this is what he says. It’s right here.

I think I’ve given away more Jesus Calling than any other book. A lot of people that I’ve given it to have been at Young Life camp, because they’re young girls who maybe have just met the Lord for the first time.

I love this because the deal is God’s word is alive. It’s living and active, and just like the rains that fall down from the heavens, and don’t return to the heavens without first nourishing the earth, causing it to bud and flourish. And so I’d probably read through this book, I don’t know, about nine years. And it’s amazing to me how I’m at different points in my life and Scripture and even what Sarah writes can speak to something new. It always feels new and always feels alive, and so I’m so grateful for that.

“God’s word is alive. It’s living and active.” – Ellie Holcomb

One of my favorites comes from March 4th:

Refuse to worry! In this world there will always be something enticing you to worry. That is the nature of a fallen, fractured planet: Things are not as they should be. So the temptation to be anxious is constantly with you, trying to worm its way into your mind. The best defense is continual communication with Me, richly seasoned with thanksgiving. Awareness of My Presence fills your mind with light and peace, leaving no room for fear. This awareness lifts you up above your circumstances, enabling you to see problems from My perspective. Live close to me! Together we can keep the wolves of worry at bay.

I think this might have been the first place that I was encouraged to fight worry with gratitude and sort of was given a model to instead of just taking worry and spinning it around and around in my head, just to bring it to the foot of the cross, to talk to Him about it.

And my friend Annie always tells me when she has the days of worry, she’ll start the day in the shower. And instead of letting it circle around and around in her head, she just prays it out. So I really think this was one of the first places where I kind of was given that idea that, “Hey, don’t worry. Talk to Me.” And man, what a concept. As it turns out, I’ve never gotten to the end of the day worrying about something and been like, I feel better about that. So I just I love that.

Singing to God with Your Life

Narrator: Ellie is not only a gifted singer/songwriter, but she has a heart for children. She tells us about a book she’s written for kids called Who Sang the First Song?

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I think sometimes when you write specifically for children, for me, it is such a sweet reminder that before I’m a mom, before I’m an adult with responsibilities and a job, I am first and foremost a beloved daughter of the most high God. I’m His kid, and I might tend to overcomplicate things sometimes. So when you’re kind of boiling things down to a really simple form, there’s been something so good for my soul in that process.

I’m so delighted about it. It kind of follows the story of creation loosely. I listened to a Tim Keller sermon that kind of blew my mind. And he talked about [how] we talk a lot in the creation story about how God spoke the earth into existence, which is beautiful, but he was like, “I want to know why God spoke the earth into existence.”

And so he just did a beautiful job of talking about the way Genesis 1 is actually written in the form of an archaic Hebrew poem. And so he said, “How wonderful that, when God was speaking the earth into existence, He almost spoke it in a song, like it’s written.” And when you read the story again you’re like, Oh my goodness, yes. “And there is morning and there is evening.” There’s total repetition throughout the whole thing and beautiful imagery. And so he talks about how God singing the earth into existence because He wanted the earth and He wanted us to sing his praises all the days of our life.

And so this little book just explores that idea that when God made the earth, He decided to sing and He wrote a song and everything. And He wants us to sing with our life and our voice because He created the earth to make a joyful noise.

So when you’re boiling things down to a really simple form there’s something there’s been something so good for my soul in that process. And I’m actually writing children’s record right now to kind of release in conjunction with the book. And it’s been a joy to write and remember that we’re His kids.

It is my hope, with all of my music, that it would point to the truth and God’s Word and into the hope that He offers us continually. And I think what has been the most beautiful thing is that sharing the hope that I’ve experienced in suffering and the comfort of God that I’ve known in the midst of what felt like chaos, the stories and the suffering that I have been able to enter into with other people has been such an honor.

It’s just no surprise because He’s faithful. And I think He’s the best person that we could know in the midst of our sorrow or suffering because He suffered too. And He suffered for us so that we could know that we are not alone. And I pray that He’ll continue to breathe hope and light into people’s hopeless and dark circumstances, because that’s what he continues to do for me.

Narrator: To learn more about Ellie’s new children’s book and EP, Who Sang the First Song?, visit her website at

Ellie Holcomb - Who Sang the First Song book cover

Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we talk with country singer Rodney Atkins. Rodney knows the power of music to touch our lives. And next week, he shares one of the most memorable messages he’s ever received from a fan about his song “If You’re Going Through Hell.”

Rodney Atkins: I think one of the first emails that I ever got as an artist, and the message was that the guy said that he had just lost his job, his wife. I think one of his parents passed away, and he was just miserable. And he said that he was in the parking lot of his church. He had a pistol, and he was done. He said his radio was just kind of barely on, and he started hearing a song play. And it’s “If You’re Going Through Hell.” And then he said, “That was 20 minutes ago. Now the pistol at the bottom of the river, and I’m home. And it’s going to be okay.”

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