Dear Melissa

November 3, 2015

Four years ago on this day, I received the call that would forever change our lives.  For lots of reasons, I’ve never written the specific details of that day, of Elena’s injury and what followed.  Some of you know, some of you don’t and most of you don’t know even the whole story.  I hope to be able to share that with you some day and I’m certain I will.  But just for today, I want to share something else with you.  I want to show you the awesome power of God’s grace.  There is nothing we could ever do to find ourselves undeserving of it.  And I want to tell you that it’s for you.  Yes, even you.  It’s for you, Melissa.

November 3, 2015
Dear Melissa,

I forgive you.
Only God knows the number of tears I have shed during the last four years. I have carried a bitter burden of anger in my heart towards you each day for four years. You set our lives on a course we had never dreamed.  But God has held our family in the palm of his hand. In the car on the way to the hospital that day, I could barely breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even pray. I literally screamed Jesus’ name the entire car ride. From that moment, He has always been there wrapping me in his love and assurance, not once ever failing or forsaking me.

But, through all the pain and suffering, I have emerged whole. Only God can make that happen. Only a just, loving Father can take what happened and create a masterpiece of changed hearts. And He is the only reason I can wake up every day with joy in my heart and extend forgiveness to you.

The bitterness in my heart for you is gone. I have been set free from that burden. In it’s place is a peace that passes all understanding. And I want you to know that.  

I will never understand why this happened to our precious Elena, but I find great joy in knowing the lives she has touched and the light she is to me and so many. Only God could take our tragedy and weave it into the beautiful life He has restored to us.  She is our greatest blessing.

I don’t know the impact that this has had on you. But know that I will pray for you to know and accept the unending love and grace that Jesus gives us all.

In God’s love,

I hope you, who have followed our story from the early days while still at Riley, understand the difficulty it has taken for me to be able to reach this point (I shake even as I type this).  You may remember the ant/tapestry analogy I used early on.  This is my tapestry.  When I realized I needed to extend God’s mercy and grace to this person, I had a glimpse of my tapestry.  I can’t describe to you the awe and humility I felt at that moment.  Four years worth of questions, prayers, blessings, “coincidences” collided into that moment with stunning conviction for this to be my next step.  I am living Ephesians 3:20.  God HAS been able to do immeasurably more than I ever asked or imagined.  Maybe not the physical healing for my baby that we so desperately longed for, but gosh, the hearts that have been changed.  Mine.  Chad’s. Yours?  You guys, physical healing is so obvious and so understandable but what God really cares about are hearts, souls.  They are what last an eternity.  I think about my heart before all of this, during all of this, and now, coming through all of this and it is changed.  Wholly.  Holy.

A dear, dear friend whose wise words and fervent prayers have helped guide me through this process of forgiveness sent me a text the other day while she was in church singing “It Is Well With My Soul”, saying it made her think of me.  It was the perfect way to describe what this forgiveness has done in me.  I am unburdened.  I am free.  It is well with my soul.  I am no longer the Emmalee screaming on the way to the hospital, unable to breathe.  No longer is He carrying me, I’m walking with Him.  Praise God.

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul

It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

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This is Elena. Our Light. You can see all the goodness and joy that shines from those deep blue eyes. She loves sneezes, yawns, industrial toilet flushes, automatic paper towel dispensers and The Star Spangled Banner. Music is her everything, specifically Moana, Frozen (really all Disney), Queen & Taylor Swift. Nothing makes her squeal quite like swimming, fast boat rides and her two brothers in trouble. In addition to her megawatt smile, Elena reminds us to cherish the smallest of victories, to live in the present, and to daily dwell in a posture of gratitude for every breath and every blessing.  

More About Our Story

I’m Emmalee, an ordinary gal born and raised in the Heartland. Wife to Chad, and Mom to Elena, Calvin & Turner, I spend most my days ridin’ dirty (literally so much trash) in my minivan carting kids to and fro. When I’m not being a Momager, I excel at self-care, cooking gourmet meals my kids won’t eat and deep-diving all the feelings. Most days, my attitude is gratitude, just taking life one step at a time.

Emmalee & Elena

Meet The Gals