I AM HealingStrong

66: Transforming Daunting Times with Music and Faith | Ellie Holcomb

November 14, 2023 HealingStrong Episode 66
I AM HealingStrong
66: Transforming Daunting Times with Music and Faith | Ellie Holcomb
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Do you ever wonder about the healing power of music and how a simple tune can transform a daunting situation into a powerful experience? Picture this: Jim, our host, sitting in an oncology clinic, earphones plugged in, lost in Ellie Holcomb's music. Today, we are fortunate to engage in an inspiring conversation with Ellie herself, a gifted singer-songwriter who's been a beacon of light during Jim's cancer journey.

Ellie and Jim take us through their heartwarming first meeting, drawing on the mutual love for record clubs and the profound influence of legendary producer, Brown Bannister. Ever felt like your story is part of a greater narrative? Ellie helps unveil this beautiful connection with her music and faith as our guides. She opens up about her childhood, her father's significant role in shaping her career, and how a family Christmas record played a special part in Jim's life. Together, they navigate the weighty subjects of a cancer diagnosis and the strength found in faith.

As we journey with Ellie and Jim, we also gain insight into her new musical projects. Imagine being uplifted by the power of Psalms. She also speaks candidly about her plans for a devotional book and how her faith, family, and music have been pillars during difficult times. Ellie's experiences with homeschooling during the pandemic and her efforts in shedding light in the darkness through music are nothing short of inspirational. Join us as we wrap up with an encouraging note on the HealingStrong organization.


Find Ellie at:



HealingStrong's mission is to educate, equip and empower our group leaders and group participants through their journey with cancer or other chronic illnesses, and know there is HOPE. We bring this hope through educational materials, webinars, guest speakers, conferences, community small group support and more.

Please consider supporting our mission by becoming a part of our Membership Program, as a monthly donor.

When you do, you will receive additional resources such as: webinars, access to ALL our past and most recent conference videos, downloadables and more, as a bonus.

To learn more, head to the HealingStrong Membership Program link below:

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Speaker 1:

I just remember feeling so afraid and I had the privilege of watching my mom and dad that night just run into all of the darkness, all of the unknown that was in front of them, with their hands raised in the air, praising God, and I am so grateful for that because I ended up in the center of the room. I started out off of the edges and I ended up in the center of the room that night. They didn't say, get in here, you need to do this, they just did it. And this is so often how we learn faith right. Like they're not, like this is how you walk through a cancer diagnosis. This is how you pray. They just pray and they're moving through it in the best way that they know how, not perfectly for sure, but just saying we are gonna cry out to God. And we encountered that night the peace of God and the presence of God, and peace that made no sense to have in light of our circumstances and it marked me. It will mark me for the rest of my life.

Speaker 4:

You're listening to the I am Healing Strong podcast, a part of the Healing Strong organization, the number one network of holistic cancer support groups in the world. Each week we bring you stories of hope, real stories that will encourage you as you navigate your way on your own journey to health. Now here's your host stage four cancer thriver, jim Mann.

Speaker 3:

Well, I'm sitting in one of my favorite cities in the planet. Of course, I've only been to like seven. Yeah, but still, this is one of my favorites Nashville, tennessee, with one of my favorite people, ellie Holcomb.

Speaker 1:

Hi Jim, I'm so glad you're here.

Speaker 3:

She's always depressed, hahaha, or as her dad says every day is Christmas right.

Speaker 1:

I do feel solidly like a female version of Buddy the Elf, yeah.

Speaker 3:

You like that movie, don't you?

Speaker 1:

I love it. It's one of my favorites.

Speaker 3:

It's a classic.

Speaker 1:

It is like 20 years old. Did you know that? No, we should fact check this later, jim, but I'm pretty sure it's that old. What a good year.

Speaker 2:

Wow, I was just a kid.

Speaker 1:

I know, yeah, literally Hahaha.

Speaker 3:

Well, the inside.

Speaker 1:

On the inside, I kid it hard forever.

Speaker 3:

Yes, the reason why I want to talk to you, ellie, because you're a part of my cancer story. Oh, I kind of pulled you into it. It's your fault for writing music.

Speaker 1:

I know I'm sorry.

Speaker 3:

But yeah.

Speaker 1:

I'm not sorry, actually at all. Well yeah, thank you Hahaha.

Speaker 3:

Now you're well. First of all, let's back up how we crossed paths to begin with. You know it has been many years ago. Now they're saying, hey, there's a new artist coming through, ellie Holcomb and we're like not another new artist.

Speaker 1:

Another one.

Speaker 3:

Because sometimes they're fabulous and sometimes they're like OK, good luck. You know kind of thing, yeah, and we want to be polite. And he said well, her dad is bringing her. I said what? Is she 14? What? What's going on with her dad? Nobody brings no, dad comes with the artist Right. And he said well, dad's name is Brown Bannister. And we all went oh, all this, I know like he's a legend. No one's ever seen him in person, hahaha.

Speaker 1:

He's been holed up in studios for years.

Speaker 3:

He doesn't do radio tours, obviously.

Speaker 1:

No, never. But he loved that. Yeah, he invited to.

Speaker 3:

I remember back when you probably weren't even existing, when Word Records came out with the little membership thing and they sent out a record every month, I think it was oh.

Speaker 1:

I was solidly alive for this. I loved record clubs. Yes, are you kidding me? I don't know. You're giving them a mail.

Speaker 3:

And I'm like, yeah, I was looking on the back and it was like produced by Brown Bannister, which I thought, of course, was a company.

Speaker 1:

Right yeah, my friends called him Beige Handrail. Yeah yeah, brown Bannister.

Speaker 3:

Yes, it's a classy name actually. Yeah, and I knew his name once he came out with an album Brown Bannister. I said, oh my gosh, that's a person. Yeah, and a nice guy.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, very nice guy.

Speaker 3:

And a very good singer.

Speaker 1:

Very good singer. Very hesitant singer.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, but yeah.

Speaker 1:

How come did he do it a couple of times? He did well.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, but he's good at producing, so you know.

Speaker 1:

He is.

Speaker 3:

He did little people like what Amy Grant and yeah small, yeah Small fries like that.

Speaker 1:

Hahaha, amy Grant, I mean everybody back in the day it would be like Point of Gray Smitty. Stephen Curtis Chapman just a guy you've probably never heard of.

Speaker 3:

Bart Miller, mercy Me you know, casual Doesn't ring a bell, yeah, but Amy, yeah, amy, yes, of course you grew up knowing all these people. Of course they were probably. Was it the house? Yeah, they probably babysat you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was definitely at the house when they recorded our first Christmas record in Caribou that album cover, remember with the cabin. Yeah, the lights on behind, baby Ellie is inside that cabin.

Speaker 3:

I love that album.

Speaker 1:

I love it too. Tinder Tennessee Christmas.

Speaker 3:

I moved to Tennessee once Now I got to tell this story. I moved to Tinder, tennessee, on a Christmas tree farm. I lived on a Christmas tree farm. I know Elf would have loved it and the family that was there. The girl, the teenager, she goes hey, I'm singing Tennessee Christmas. Do you know how to play on a guitar? I said not yet. So I had to cassette and I'm rewinding it and learning all the chords.

Speaker 1:

I love this story, you learned how to play Tinder. Tennessee Christmas on a Christmas tree farm in Tennessee. Yes, no one has that story, jim man.

Speaker 3:

It's mine. Oh, I love it. You can share it wherever.

Speaker 1:

OK, I'm going to tell a lot of people that. Yeah, I'm going to tell Amy that.

Speaker 3:

She's going to love that. She'll be calling me to go on tour.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, she'll be like Jim, we need you to come play this at the Rhyman this year, complete with the harmonics at the end. Jim, this is how I was, that those harmonics are amazing, so I love. I fell in love with Amy Grant. It was like my hero still is one of my heroes.

Speaker 2:

And.

Speaker 1:

I happened to know her, which feels like such a gift in my life. But I also lived in the same neighborhood for just a minute with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill While they were building their actual house. They're like in the middle in between house was in my neighborhood for a couple years, so what I used to do in middle school is I would go out on my back porch and I would belt Tim McGraw and Faith Hill songs as loud as I possibly could, being like for sure they're going to hear me, and obviously then invite me on the road to be their background singer.

Speaker 3:

That did not work out, but what's wrong with them? I?

Speaker 1:

don't know, I don't, I don't know. I should have gotten a better sound system.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, probably, and their careers would have taken off if they did that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they yeah.

Speaker 3:

Who's heard of them? I know, Exactly. So back to my story. So we felt sorry for you because we thought, oh, I hope we're not too excited about Brown Bannister and I hope his daughter is OK at least. So you go, oh, that's good, hey, so Brown. But turns out she was fabulous. We all just fell in love with her because of the everyday Christmas personality, and I love your voice, thank you. But it's very comforting.

Speaker 1:

Well, I fell in love with y'all's whole team as well.

Speaker 3:

Who doesn't?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's pretty. Y'all are pretty loveable.

Speaker 3:

Yes, that's good, how much.

Speaker 1:

What we agreed on earlier. Yeah, OK.

Speaker 3:

Oh, that for my side. I forgot about that, but then your dad unfortunately got the diagnosis. It was before that, or? After that, after that, yeah yeah, my timetable is going off here.

Speaker 1:

Well, actually, you know what? I don't know when we would have met, I don't know, actually, where we were on that journey. Here's what I know. Actually, it was before that, jim, because I wrote Find you here, I don't know. No, it was after that, because that was my first record.

Speaker 3:

OK, red Sea Road.

Speaker 1:

That was Red Sea Road. But here's what's important to know Nobody's ever ready for that call.

Speaker 3:

No.

Speaker 1:

Like the test came back positive and I can just I can like go right back there. It is like, yeah, you're never ready for that news.

Speaker 3:

It's worse for the family too than the actual person, I think.

Speaker 1:

Is it?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I mean if I, I got mine and of course it was hard enough, but if it was my wife or my kids it would've been even harder, because I can't control that.

Speaker 1:

That's so interesting. Yeah, it was really heavy. And yeah, I the next week, mom and dad, mom, it was mom's birthday and Huck was a baby, so this was 2015. Yeah, because Huck was, yeah, fact check accomplished, because I'm just remembering she wanted to have for her birthday a week after the diagnosis, like the test came back, that she went to worship night. She's like we're all gonna get together, we're telling our community which I don't know that everybody always does that but Not too many people. Yeah, I was. I was like mom y'all don't even know like this is a pretty I don't know. They're like we need to take care of this now. They're like and probably gonna need a surgery at some point and but she just really wanted to have a worship night and I got there. Our whole community is in the room. I am paralyzed with fear. I, on the very edges of the crowd, Huck, my little boy, who's now eight, was just like strapped to me in one of those little raps. You know, and I just remember feeling so afraid and I had the privilege of watching my mom and dad that night just run into all of the darkness, all of the unknown that was in front of them with their hands raised in the air, praising God, and I am so grateful for that because I ended up in the center of the room. I started out off of the edges and I ended up in the center of the room that night. They didn't say, get in here, you need to do this. They just did it. And this is so often how we learn faith right, like they're not like. This is how you walk through a cancer diagnosis. This is how you pray. They just pray and they're moving through it in the best way that they know how, not perfectly for sure, but just saying we are gonna cry out to God. And we encountered that night the peace of God and the presence of God, and peace that made no sense to have in light of our circumstances and it marked me. It will mark me for the rest of my life.

Speaker 3:

In fact, you wrote a song.

Speaker 1:

Three days later.

Speaker 3:

Three days later. Yeah, I knew, it was quick.

Speaker 1:

Called. Find you here, yeah. Out of Philippians 4, 4 through 7.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, did it come to you in one day?

Speaker 1:

It did. Yeah, it is interesting how songs come about. There's a producer named Rusty Varenkamp and he had sent me just some tracks that were just music and I was listening through those and that beautiful music part is at the beginning of that song was on there and some songs you really have to labor over, and this Find you here. I just caught, like I just literally played that track and pretty much sang the song out almost exactly as it is. Mine is the Bridge, which actually I ended up pulling from another song that I'd written. But I think I was so impacted by the presence of God that met us in that low place and I didn't want to forget it and I knew that I might need to remember even in the coming days of the cancer journey, right, like I was, like, don't forget how God met you there, right, because there are days that are some days are better than others. Some days I remember better that God is always with me than other days, and so if I can write a song, sometimes, if I can sing it, it helps me believe it in a deeper way.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so it was like the next year. Apparently it was 2016 that I got my diagnosis and I was at Momentum, the radio conference, and in fact, my son came with me because he was moving to Nashville.

Speaker 1:

Yes, this is right by your side.

Speaker 3:

So yeah, I introduced you to him. You took a little selfie with him so you remember who he was. Gave him your number. I think he called once.

Speaker 1:

I know I'm terrible at the phone, so tell him if I didn't call him back, I'm sorry.

Speaker 3:

You actually talked to him and said well, you need to talk to my husband Drew. He's on tour right now, but when he comes back, I love that he never followed through, not Drew, but my son.

Speaker 1:

I love that he's like oh good, he seems like he's doing great. Your son.

Speaker 3:

Yes, he is doing great, but I had just got my diagnosis that week when I saw you. Of course I wasn't telling anybody.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 3:

It's just kind of weird. Yeah, because I didn't know much about it. I didn't realize they were giving me a month or two to live, which is not good. Good thing they didn't tell me at that point, because I was like, okay, because I'm a rule follower, yeah, I'm gonna say okay, well.

Speaker 1:

Okay, well, I'm dying into my own.

Speaker 3:

yeah, Saving money on Christmas.

Speaker 1:

Oh, my word. So they didn't tell you that.

Speaker 3:

No, no, no, no. I had to have an operation that week and as soon as I got back because they called me in a panic, because my dermatologist know me from radio stations, so they feel like I'm their family and they're like I'm so sorry to ruin your Disney World vacation I said it's work okay. But yeah, they say you gotta have an operation. As soon as you get back and they go God's got this, which means they're scared to death when people are like that. And so the surgeons said he's gonna do an operation here, then he's gonna go down this side for the next one, then he's coming across. He told me all the operations I'm gonna have, whoa. And then when I was cancer free I mean it hadn't spread they had the look that you have on your face like what Whoa?

Speaker 4:

Exactly.

Speaker 3:

I said well, I have 500,000 people praying for me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, pretty good. That's a pretty good team of people.

Speaker 3:

But then it came back 18 months later in the form of tumors, like eight of them. But then they put me on immunotherapy and it shrunk in two months. But that's when I had to keep doing scans a lot and I thought I gotta have Ellie's album. So they normally don't let you listen to music while you're being. I don't know what they does to your brain, but they thought, well, your brain's it's fine. So they let me put the little earbuds in and you sang to me the whole time. I listened to the whole album. That's how long the scan took and it was very comforting, I felt. The only thing better is you were standing in the corner singing, and then that would be a little creepy too. At the same time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, maybe you couldn't have even heard it as well, probably Cause those things are loud. Aren't the scans kind of loud? Yeah, a little bit so yeah.

Speaker 3:

So I had several scans past that to make sure and it doesn't seem real Like with me when I'm in between doctors appointments I forget that I have cancer, because I just forget easily. I don't know, but then when you're inside that tube and you're wearing a gown and everything and everybody's out of the room because it's dangerous, all the radiation, it seems very real.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

I'm not gonna make it in another month.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and very alone.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I would imagine. No, no, you were singing.

Speaker 1:

I love that, Jim. It makes me wanna cry every time you say it yeah. But to think of the way God weaves different people's stories together, and to even think of this podcast who knows who's listening right now?

Speaker 3:

Exactly God. Right, he does listen to my podcast.

Speaker 1:

Yes, he is a subscriber, yeah, and he likes it.

Speaker 3:

Yes, he does. He gave me a five-star.

Speaker 1:

But thinking about different people's stories, and I even think about this with music, like I mean, we're laughing that I didn't know the timeline. But guess who did know the timeline? God, yes, and I can't tell you how many people. Not everybody has listened to a conversation that I've had with somebody like you, jim, and knows that that song Find you here was written in the wake of a cancer diagnosis. But I can't tell you how many people come up and say, man, we just got really bad news. And I've been listening to this song, yeah, and I'm like, oh, that's the song I wrote in the wake of bad news and in the wake of experiencing God's nearness. And that is a mystery that I will, that I continue to marvel at and be grateful for, yeah, god's nearness. And I think there's an artist called Night Bird. Yes, be familiar. Yeah, and she's past. But man, what a beautiful testimony. And she says so. She had. She was passed from cancer but fought for a very long time and outlived anybody's expectations of how long she should be alive, and I mean talk about shining a bright light, like one. What was it? America's Got Talent or something with Simon. She ended up winning. Yeah, they loved her. And who wouldn't love her. She just is full of this peace and joy and light and is walking through hell. And that is what I know to be true of God. Yeah, cause he did walk through hell and walked out of it. So we could know we never face any hellish thing here on earth like cancer, like broken hearts. We never faced that alone. But she said she was just a poet heart. And she said you know, I've heard a lot of people say that they don't see God, that they can't, they don't see evidence for God, and what I say to that is if you can't find God, if you can't see God, look lower. He is right there on the bathroom floor with you. And I just thought that is what I've known to be true of who God is and you know he's not just a God, he's in church and in these holy moments of praise and worship. But my mom took a picture the first day we actually did the vocal for finding here it's so crazy, jim, that you were just describing listening to that in a scan, feeling so alone. The day I sang the vocal that we ended up keeping. We kept the scratch vocal for the record. Dad was in the hospital, wow, getting ready to have surgery, and been shy of our co-producer. We just did like a scratch track and I took the little MP3 to the hospital right after we finished our pre-production for the day and mom has a picture of me playing it for dad and of both of us in a hospital room which is like where no one wants to be right, like cold, I don't know it, just sometimes hospitals come there.

Speaker 3:

They're sterile.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they can be places of miracles and healing, but they're also places of loss and feeling awful and throwing up and being sick. And mom has a picture of us with our hands both just raised saying God. You are a God who shows up on the bathroom floors of hospitals in the wake of bad news, and I am just it's so sweet to hear that story carry on, even through your story, to hear that resonate again, that truth resonate yeah, so cool.

Speaker 3:

That's pretty much why I love Healing Strong, because it's the same principle. I mean, healing Strong is made up of hundreds of community groups where people who are fighting cancer they come and they get encouraged. In fact, you would think it'd be a room full of depressed people, but it's. You know, people are happy because they're listening to other people's stories and they're being encouraged by it, and so they, even when they come in depressed, they leave happy, like there is hope. I can do that and it's faith-based. So God is the center of it all. But it's like I mean, it's all over the places and it's in England, it's all over the United States, of course, in Canada and England and Italy. I think there's one opening up in Japan.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I love that so much. But what a beautiful like concept too to know that you're not walking. I don't know. Sometimes I feel like sickness diagnosis feels like so lonely.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so lonely. You're isolated.

Speaker 1:

They're isolated, yeah, and then here's Healing Strong, here's all these resources.

Speaker 4:

Here's all these stories.

Speaker 1:

And also, you're not alone. Other people know the hard and the ache of this, and then the joy, and they know victory and peace in it too. What a gift to share that.

Speaker 3:

We were in Houston I think I was just telling you that celebrating 10 years of this, and Suzy is the one who started because she had a cancer journey and she wanted to heal through natural means. She went through the Gerson method and it's a very strict thing but she healed her cancer that way because we believe God created us with the bodies, with the immune system that's meant to take care of, because everyone's got cancer cells in them. It's when they get out of control, because your body can no longer fight them, and it's because we are poor diets or stress or unforgiveness, all that kind of stuff. But she thought, well, hey, I need to share the stuff I learned. And so she just kind of met with some people and they talked about it and she thought it was just a one and done thing. And here it is, 10 years later, growing like crazy, because people just need encouragement.

Speaker 1:

As it turns out, we need each other Crazy, and then we fight her together.

Speaker 3:

Last weekend it ended with this huge worship service, and it was just you would have loved it.

Speaker 1:

I would have loved it, I'm like it sounds amazing, Gosh Well, and to think that there's a resource like that for anyone walking through that and I would imagine. I mean, is it only people who actually have cancer? Is it family?

Speaker 3:

members as well. Yeah, and it doesn't even have to be cancer, I mean, anything's like a life-threatening disease, or just people who want to learn how to be healthy and prevent stuff like that.

Speaker 1:

I have actually yeah, we have a family member walking through really intense cancer diagnosis, right, now. Really young, nine, wow and she is a fighter and I can't. I'm really grateful for this reminder because I've heard you talk about Healing Strong, but I definitely am going to connect them so anyway, I'm just like grateful for you for sharing. It's a beautiful thing to share with people.

Speaker 3:

These need to go to healingstrongorg. And then you look for groups. I mean, and that's why I started one in Greenville, because I thought surely there's going to be one in Greenville, because it's such a healthy place, we have our own cancer park for crying out loud you do.

Speaker 1:

It's very amazing. Yeah you were there, I was there.

Speaker 3:

I loved it. And but there wasn't any in Greenville, so I had to start one. I'm not a leader for crying out loud, so I thought, well, someone's going to step up the heaven yet.

Speaker 2:

But we meet at that park? Yeah, absolutely Don't. You think maybe that sometimes God, I don't know.

Speaker 1:

I feel like this is in scripture. All the time he's like yeah, I'm sending you and they're like me. No, no, no, no not me.

Speaker 2:

He's like no, that's perfect.

Speaker 1:

You literally that is I'm a hesitant musician. I like swore I'd never do music. Wow.

Speaker 3:

You're not going to make it.

Speaker 1:

Swore I'd never marry a musician. And I'm like God has a sense of humor.

Speaker 3:

You messed that up.

Speaker 1:

I did. I really screwed up.

Speaker 3:

Yes, and I didn't even mention you're married to the amazing Drew Holcomb and your neighbors.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I know, I know, I was in his band for years, a neighbor with benefits, if you will of getting to be married to the lead singer. But you left it because you wouldn't stand with the kids right I did, yeah, and then, very shortly after I left the band, it was, I was memorizing scripture with a friend of mine who was battling depression pretty severely and we realized it wasn't enough to just acknowledge lies. We needed something stronger to ground ourselves in, and so we started memorizing God's word and it started changing us. I have a lot of questions about God's word. I don't fully understand it. There are things about it that I'm like what? There's some crazy stories in there. I know everything, by the way. Yes, perfect, thank goodness. That's why we're here clearing everything up, all the mysteries solved, oh yeah. But I can say, even with all my questions, are the things that I maybe don't fully comprehend or understand. The story that it tells of a God who's always moving low, who risks a sting, who risks loss for the possibility to connect with people that he made and loves is so beautiful to me. And holding on to his word I mean find you hear that. So all of my music is just me trying to hold on to truths that are grounded in the word of God, because I'm hard to believe in them sometimes, or trusting them, and so if I can sing it sometimes it helps me believe it, but I'm just so so it's so funny because I started writing songs that I thought were just for me and my friend Annie, and since the nudge for many people in my life, as well as spirit, the spirit of God, just to be like, would you share these with other people? I was like counseling, healing from so much Because it grew up in the church. But there's no but about that. I am so grateful for the foundation that I was given and no one told me this. This is my, but no one told me this. But I did not know. I gathered from Growing up in the church that it was not okay to not be okay.

Speaker 4:

Like.

Speaker 1:

I just was like, oh, so I got it so good and he loves us so much. And I really did believe that and know that from a young age. And I was like, so I am gonna be so good and just do my very best to be to follow everything. And so I'm recovering perfectionist and it has been such a joy and I think a recovering I don't know I don't know how to say it but like I feel. So as I get older I feel so much more comfortable with just not with the mystery of God, because it's so big and moving in so many different ways. But it has been such a delight to Kind of I'm glad that I followed that invitation. I I Since him saying would you be willing to go back into churches? You know where you grew up thinking you had to do all these right things and just be a mess in front of them and proclaim my love in the middle of the mess of life. And I was like, no, definitely not, because I know how judgmental I was. You know like I'm like that is the last people I want to go talk to. But ultimately and also I know there's a cost to doing music like I grew up in the studios with my dad. I watched. I am zero percent enamored with fame, like I, like I was like. That felt like a prison to me, like as a kid, and in the same breath, as a kid, I saw the power of music you know to connect and bring hope. So I really didn't think I was gonna end up doing it, but I am so glad that I ended up ultimately giving like a surrendered yes to where I feel like God was leading me because it Scared me. I was going in, you know, not blind to what it could. You know, like you do music, you have to leave home a lie and I like home. I love Tennessee, tender Tennessee Christmas. Take me to the Christmas tree farm, you know, but it has been. I you know that movie In Indiana Jones the scene. It's very old, so you millenials listening and go watch Indiana Jones tears him forward. You might not even know his name anymore, but he was huge in the 80s. Yes but he is on an adventure and he's taking a step. His path leads him to this like abyss, and he knows the right way is forward, but it looks like when he takes the step he's going to fall into the abyss. And that is what. Saying yes to doing my own music Wow, felt like I was like this, feels so scary. But as I, since God calling me to do that, I was so glad that I took that so surrendered yes and took that surrendered step Because, as I've done that and this happens in the movie sorry to spoiler alert, but like the ground has risen up beneath my feet and it has been such a joy, even in the hard moments and it's still hard to do music. It's not like the cost went away, but to see the provision of God and the communities, the community that's grown up around their family, and all the people's stories who have gotten to meet, because that I never would know without the gift of music, like you, joe, I know right. So it's such a. I think music is a bridge builder and I am, so I want to be in my life a person and this is Jesus the ultimate bridge builder. But who's building bridges to different people's stories?

Speaker 3:

What a fun thing to use melodies. Yeah, it's crazy. I'm just gonna do that and you pop up all over the place. I mean, you come on my Instagram. You're always doing the scriptures only good job Memory Mondays on Instagram.

Speaker 1:

And then, of course, you've written children's books which I've not read yet, jim, I'm gonna send you with a stack of them, yeah. Kayla Herron did my first two and then Laura Ramos did my Christmas. One sounding joy, but the illustrators are unbelievable. But it has been such a delight. So I've got three kids 10, eight and five and as I've written songs and then books for children, it's just helped me remember that before I'm a mom, before I'm an artist, before I'm an author, even writing books for children, we are all, before we're anything. We are first and foremost like beloved sons and beloved daughters of the God who made us. And what a relief, yeah, to know we're his kids, even though we're. We have agency in the world, we have jobs and good things that we're working and doing, but before that, like we have a really good dad, yeah.

Speaker 3:

And you're a busy woman. Yes, Before we wrap this up here. I mean you, of course. You tour on your own, you tour with your husband and, of course, the books and you all have a. Is it a music festival that's yours?

Speaker 1:

Moon River Music Festival. My gosh, it is one of my favorite weekends of the year and as it turns out, it is almost lands around my birthday or on my birthday every year. We didn't do that on purpose. But then also five years ago, I was on stage nine months pregnant, just hammering a tambourine in my hand and I'm like and I think people were like, oh my goodness, she's going to baby on stage, Like she's going to have that child on stage, and so Rivers, our third, was born the next day, and so his birthday and my birthday. We just throw a big music festival every year. It's been a delight.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, how can people get a whole ooh Chattanooga? I love that tone. Yeah, it's a good one. How can people get a hold of you? Just go to your website. Yeah, they can find me at ellieholcombcom.

Speaker 1:

It's H-O-L. Comb your hair like C-O-M-B, which is helpful. I don't do that anymore, yeah.

Speaker 3:

I know I have to. It gets crazy.

Speaker 1:

That surprises me, jim. You don't comb your hair every day.

Speaker 3:

There's none, no, they just, they just the three of them lay down by themselves, that's what my Drew actually says?

Speaker 1:

the same thing. He doesn't have a whole. He has a lot of hair on his face. Oh my gosh, he does?

Speaker 3:

He has an epic beard, but it is.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you can find me there, and then I'm actually about to release. This is fun to say because I have a when I started memorizing scripture with that friend of mine that I talked about, you know, 15 years ago probably. Now we call the scripture that we memorize or fighting words to kick back against the darkness with the light. Yeah, and I have a little devotional called fighting words. That has been such a delight. Now it feels it was really hard to write, honestly, because it's just that's a lot of work and I was also making a record and touring, writing for other artists and have a lot going on and well, I'm just going to my kids during COVID Laundry grocery. Laundry, groceries, cooking. It was during COVID when all of this was happening, and so I my kids were at home. Anyway, I was also a homeschool teacher. So God bless all the teachers and the moms who are doing all the things you are doing so good. You have so much that you carry. It's so beautiful, so it was really hard to write, but I am so glad I did it. It's a hundred days of speaking truth into the darkness and I'm about to release an extended version because I realized it has become. It's basically like a little stack of Ebenezer stones, right like an altar and pinning of ways that I've seen God to be faithful, and so I'm adding 10 more because I realized I left out 10 of my like lifer verses. Which how did I write a whole book with a hundred days and leave out some of my 10 favorites?

Speaker 3:

I have no idea.

Speaker 1:

I can, I'm going to blame COVID.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, we'll do that.

Speaker 1:

It was a busy time but I literally was like how so along with that, music has been such as a helpful scripture memory like tool for me. And so, along with that book that's coming out right around Mother's Day of 24, I will release a little Psalms EP that just is almost straight, straight scripture For the most part, just like God's word. I am doing a cover of Amy Grant's Thy Word because that had a huge impact on me as a kid. So barring that one, but that's grounded and you know Psalm 119, but I am so excited for that to come out. And so if you would like to sing scripture or hold on to a little bit of light or bury it in your heart so you have an ever-present source of light and hope with you, come find me on Instagram. I'm singing, I'm singing scripture on there or on Spotify or wherever you listen to music. That little Psalms EP will be called All of my Days Wow, based on Psalm 23.

Speaker 3:

Well, it has been great. I was looking forward to this. I've been trying to get it to happen for like 10 years.

Speaker 1:

For ever yeah.

Speaker 3:

But it finally happened. I appreciate that Me too. You're still one of my favorite people.

Speaker 1:

You're still one of my jimmy and grateful, I'm grateful for you.

Speaker 3:

Why don't we go out with one of your newest scripture songs?

Speaker 1:

Oh great. Okay, I'm gonna play one of my favorites. This is Psalm 139, 1-13.

Speaker 2:

You know when I sit and when I rise. Well, you know when I go out. You know when I lay down at night. You're familiar with all of my way, lord, before a word is ever on my tongue, well, you know it completely hold. You hit me in both behind and before. It's too wonderful. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even though your hand will guide me, even though your hand will guide me, you're right hand will hold me fast. You're right hand will hold me fast. If I say, surely, the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you, cause the night it was shot like a daytime, for the darkness is as light to you For you, created by and most being Knit together in my mother's womb. It's too wonderful. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths. You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even though your hand will guide me, even though your hand will guide me, you're right hand will hold me fast. You're right hand will hold me fast, ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm and we have a caller.

Speaker 1:

Yes, that's Psalm 139, 1-13. Thanks for listening.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome. I love that. We'll keep that in there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. We should. Is that you, lord? It's me Ellie.

Speaker 3:

That's good stuff.

Speaker 1:

Thanks Someone. 39 is like I don't know. Even thinking about the context of what I know your story has been and what my dad's story has been, and really all of us being human, like we all, know what a dark night of the soul is, and the fact that the light is always stronger than the darkness has been a deep comfort to me over the years, and so singing that I don't know when I make my bed in the depths is what feels like I don't know. I felt that way in the middle of the cancer journey that we walked through with my dad. There are days of such fear and unknown and so, man, I'm so grateful for the comfort of God's light and his word. I'm in those deep places.

Speaker 3:

Well, thank you, Ellie.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the only thing that we can see is darkness up ahead. But your eyes can just lay your worry down and sing a song instead, and I'm gonna find you.

Speaker 4:

You've been listening to the I Am Healing Strong podcast, a part of the Healing Strong organization. We hope you found encouragement in this episode, as well as the confidence to take control of your healing journey, knowing that God will guide you on this path. Healing Strong is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect, support and educate individuals facing cancer and other diseases through strategies that help to rebuild the body, renew the soul and refresh the spirit. It costs nothing to be a part of a local or online group. You can do that by going to our website at healingstrongorg and finding a group near you or an online group, or start your own your choice. While you're there, take a look around at all the free resources. Though the resources and groups are free, we encourage you to join our membership program at 25 or $75 a month. This helps us to be able to reach more people with hope and encouragement, and that also comes with some extra perks as well, so check it out. If you enjoyed this podcast, please give us a five star rating, leave an encouraging comment and help us spread the word. We'll see you next week with another story on the I Am Healing Strong podcast.

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