Meet Ellie

For years, Marshall and I have dreamed of having people live with us… college age or just beyond, maybe even an “orphaned” high schooler that just needed a place to be restored and loved and set back on their feet. We have honestly never had even a guest bedroom to speak of, but it hasn’t stopped being a desire of our heart to incorporate someone into our family for a season for mutual encouragement and to see how God could use that friendship for good and for glory!

Enter Ellie.


We met Ellie when she was a bright eyed, quick to laugh, adorably freckled fourteen year old, and to be honest, I would describe her the same way today… except that she is 21 and has grown to be a wise and adventurous young woman, brave enough to pave a way divergent from many of her peers and is full of love for God and for the world. She graduated high school three years ago and went off to Kona to join YWAM {Youth with a Mission}. Intensive schooling and community and prayer at the base in Hawaii led to a mission trip in the Philippines, and a life changing adventure. The summer after that first year, she came home, not sure what was next….school? work? We offered for her to live with us at that point, but the Lord made it clear that she was to return to Kona and join staff, leading others on the same transformational journey she had just undergone.

The past two years she has served as a missionary, training and discipling at the Kona base, and leading teams to Sri Lanka and all over the US in hopes to encourage people, serve the poor, empower people in faith and introduce many to a relationship with Jesus. Her stories are rich {visit her blog!} and she exhibits a quiet strength, a contagious giggle, and a heart of service that can only come from the joy of the Lord in her.

So, long story longer, 6 weeks ago, Marshall and I took a weekend up on Whidbey Island to dream and pray and think about a family “reset” of sorts. With four boys, a ministry, a business and frankly, just basic life demands, we have felt stretched, a bit off-center. We made a list of the desires of our heart {knowing not all of them can be met in this season of life} and among other things, like deciding Hello Fresh is a life changing service that allows us to cook together, reduce stress and shopping bills and have family dinners regularly {click for $40 off your first box. your welcome!}, on that list was to have someone live with us.

Days later, I got a call from Ellie. We talk every few months, but this call was different. She shared with me that her two years on staff with YWAM were coming to a close in just weeks, and that 6 months before, she had been sitting in a little church on the east coast, praying {with a significant amount of anxiety} about what was next, when she had a picture of living with us and immediately was overcome with peace. She talked herself out of it momentarily, thinking that with just having a 4th child and a tiny house that we’d have no space or ability to take her on. At that point God impressed on her spirit that no matter what, she would be a “servant of servants”. So the call concluded with her offering to come and live with us, to enable us to better serve others and our boys, and that she didn’t care at all what it looked like as she had not had her own room even in years, and would we have her?



I was weeping. How does that happen! The Lord gave us a person.

And this week she moved in. We cleaned out our carpeted upstairs {it is sort of a peaked-roof carpeted attic you can’t stand up in, but it is spacious and works!} and she has graciously entered into the chaos of our family. It has been the most amazing gift.

To be honest, I have had moments of insecurity… she is seeing the best and the worst of me and my boys. There are moments when I want to run and hide or just tell her to go on a walk so she doesn’t have to see the mess that we are.

But that first day when I felt that way, after she had stayed quiet, observing, helping where she could, assisting to get the boys to bed, I was teary and tired and apologetic and wondering if secretly she wondered what she had gotten herself into. Yet she looked at me and said, “your boys don’t intimidate me.” It was the simplest statement, so full of insight she could have not known. I desperately needed to hear it and it was like a big verbal bear hug.


She has assimilated quickly this first week, building report with the little guys, helping lead my small group of junior and senior girls when I needed to get the boys in bed, going to set up with Marshall for a Young Life Capernaum Talent show.  And, two of my dear friends who were praying for a part time nanny approached me and she now has a number of hours a week she gets to serve two families who are awesome {all little boys!} and be able to start saving money! God is so good. He has answered prayers for many…

Please pray as we continue on this adventure, for great relationships to develop, for clear communication and expectations on all side, for us all to be able to serve others and love the Lord and be a light to our community in a way that is fresh and compelling.

And please pray for a car!  With being a missionary for three years, Ellie has limited savings, but with taking care of little boys in three different locations, we would love to help her find a reliable vehicle so that she can transport little ones safely and have the freedom to get about! If you know of anyone who might have a car to donate or sell…. please let us know!! I have also set up a GoFundMe account for her to raise some support in that direction. Please share the word!

I am so excited to have someone investing in my boys, with insight and fresh eyes a huge heart. And I am excited to be freed up some to spend more time with Jesus, to write more and care better for my body and soul so I can serve my family and community more whole heartedly and out of the overflow of my heart, rather than the reserves I am often scraping together.

I am just so overwhelmed with the Lord’s care for me, for my family, for Ellie. For all of us…

We have a good, good Father, you know?


4 thoughts on “Meet Ellie

  1. Emily,
    As Ellie’s Farfar, my heart is filled with joy and thankfulness for her, for you and this wonderful account of the Lord’s leading for your family and my Ellie. Please do not hesitate to call me if there is any way I can be of help to you and your ministry. It would be my honor and joy to respond. Bud Palmberg


  2. Emily… During the past several years, we’ve heard from Ellie how much she has loved your family. Now, this wonderful news was far from my thoughts of possibilities for her. The Lord is so wonderful at surprising us with blessings… in this case… 2-way blessings. Thank you for your gracious mentoring and invitation to your home and family. Not until today when she was here for Sunday lunch, did I remember that you are an Odegard. I got acquainted just weeks ago with your brother, Gary and Lisa and their little guys since they’ve started attending Evergreen Covenant! Another “God wink!”


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