All posts by Ellen

Review: #SmallTalk, by Amy Julia Becker

[Expert from my review published in the Featured Articles at]

Vehicles of Grace

As a parent of two children, I often Small Talkwondered during the days of nurturing infants, toddlers, and young children what was being accomplished in my own life. It is hard to fathom that one is learning anything while wrestling, yet again, a kicking, screaming, angry baby in order to change his or her poopy diaper. Yet during one of these wrestling matches, I had an epiphany. “I do this to you, Father, don’t I? I kick and scream and am angry at you while you are simply cleaning me up.”

I remembered those days while reading Amy Julia Becker’s new book, Small Talk: Learning from My Children about What Matters Most. The book caused me to remember how good things can emerge from the hard but ordinary everyday moments.

Amy Julia Becker is perhaps best known for her articles about family life and Down syndrome at Christianity Today, the New York Times, and other outlets. In “Small Talk,” she invites readers even further into her life as a parent. Rather than a how-to or an advice book, Becker has penned a memoir to encourage and support others traveling the same path. She conveys great truths with brevity and poignancy. Using words that are seemingly simple, Becker crafts a narrative that is simply elegant.

Read the rest of the review at BreakPoint. org.

Sailing to Paradise: Sin, Disease, and Natural Disaster

Today I am honored to have one of my articles published by Christ and Pop Culture (CaPC) magazine. I wrote about our experiences sailing across the Pacific from Mexico to New Zealand. This magazine is a member benefit, but it is currently available to non-members for a limited time. CaPC membership starts at $5/month, which gets you great content engaging with popular culture in a thoughtful way from a Christian perspective. As well, member benefits include music and e-book downloads each month.

Sailing to Paradise: Sin, Disease, and Natural Disaster


“Ellen, come look at this,” my husband, Todd, requested.

We were five days sailing into our first ocean passage from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia in 2000. We expected the 2,800-mile journey to take close to four weeks and possibly a full month of blue water sailing. I sleepily uncurled from the off-watch bunk of our Cal 34 sailboat, Mandolin. Todd presented me with a weather fax he had downloaded via our HAM radio to our laptop. It showed that a Tropical Depression had developed to the southeast in the Gulf of Tehuantepec, the birthplace of Pacific Ocean hurricanes. This weather system had the potential to kill us. It was heading our way.

Read the rest at Christ and Pop Culture.

The 5ive Guys invited me to play

Making lists and checking each other with snark is what the guys at The 5ive Blog are all about. Each week they choose a topic, publish their lists and then give each other “yeah, whatever dude” commentary back. They invited me to play along this week and even let me pick the topic. The winner: Top 5ive Personal Sports. As in, what sports do we enjoy participating in? Being *ahem* gentlemen, they let me go first.


Did my husband and I really sail across the Pacific? We did. Read more about it…

The Day I Met Jesus, Coming March 3rd, 2015

What would it have been like to physically meet Jesus face to face?

Looking into Jesus’ eyes, what would a shunned person experience?

Or a person rebuked for violating social norms?

And what if, as that shunned or rebuked person, you met Jesus face to face and He fully loved you and affirmed you, even defending you to your detractors?

Read the diaries of five women who really did meet Jesus face to face.

The Day I Met Jesus, available Tuesday, March 3rd 2015.

My full review will be published March 3rd.


Review #FierceConvictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More–Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist

Hannah More enjoyed a brilliant literary career among the London literati in the late 1700’s, was an equal among William Wilberforce’s cohorts in ending the British slave trade, and brought to fruition what the Protestant Reformation boldly stated in theory:Fierce Convictions in order to understand the Scriptures, all should learn to read. So why is it that her poems, essays, pamphlets, and fiction as well as her pioneering work in education are little known today? In part it is due to her immediate friends; in part it is due to her subsequent enemies, states Karen Swallow Prior in her biography Fierce Convictions: the Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist.

Continue reading Review #FierceConvictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More–Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist

Apathy: Slow Descent back into Depression

Just over a month ago, I had my gall bladder surgically removed. I thought my present inertia, low motivation, and low energy were due to a slow recuperation. The slow recuperation included my digestive system shutting down and being kept overnight at the hospital instead of being released the same day. It also included feeling like I was drunk for over a week from the anesthesia. It has been just over a month and I am appalled at how sluggishly I proceed through my days.

This past week, I’ve made more of an effort to get back to “normal.” Although, honestly, I no longer know what normal is for me. It has been difficult to begin and to follow through on that which I want to accomplish. My mood has been: Meh.

Continue reading Apathy: Slow Descent back into Depression

Review: When the Heart is Laid Bare

How often do you expect to laugh while reading a work of fiction dealing with death, grieving, and moving on? In When the Heart is Laid Bare, Skylar Hamilton Burris pulls off the seeming impossible: finding wholesome, witty humor while looking for answers to life’s suffering.

When The Heart is Laid BareFrom the back cover:
“Coach Calder Johnson’s wife has, according to the hospital social worker, expired. Expired. Like a credit card. Not like a human being. Calder hasn’t had a true friend, other than his wife, in twenty-four years. So if he’s going to heal, he’ll have to learn to let someone inside.

Continue reading Review: When the Heart is Laid Bare