Ellie Holcomb. To think that I’ve known this amazingly thoughtful and talented human for over a decade, before marriage and the babies and adult life, and for her… being an award-winning recording artist (Dove Award in 2014). I distinctly remember sending her an e-mail in college joking about being her nanny while she and Drew were on tour one day. At that time she was a newly-married English teacher, and I was hoping to one day be a writer. Life is funny! I also remember having to convince Samford University, my alma mater, to let her and Drew play at a small on-campus coffee house called Harry’s. Considering that they now both play for sold-out audiences, these memories are purely laughable! God always has a plan and His ways will prevail. I have seen that so clearly in my friend Ellie’s life. In the distance and the busyness we have had a million reasons to lose touch, but she has been a faithful friend and I will always be one of her “biggest fans.” Most recently, her thoughtfulness, prayers, and music have made such an impact on me in my grief. I could say a million things about what an amazing human she truly is, as a friend and mother, Christ-follower and musician. But more than anything, her ability to be so incredibly genuine and transparent while also joyful and encouraging is uncanny. She is the real deal, and I’m blessed to know her. When she told me months ago that she would be releasing her first children’s album and book I was so delighted. Whether you have children or not, you will want to get a copy of her latest releases even for yourself. These newest releases are truly for everyone!
Thanks, dear Ellie, for so many things… and for taking the time to share some words with us here.
How would you describe your growing family?
Crazy! We’re full of love, laughter, singing, and dancing. We’re also full of LOTS of feelings these days, mistakes, and thankfully… forgiveness. We’re grateful for a new beginning each morning. Drew and I have been married for twelve years, and we’ve spent most of that time on the road making music. It has been a joy to bring our kids into that journey. We’ve got a five year old girl, a three old boy, and a brand new baby boy as well. We travel a lot… not just for work, but for fun too! We talk a lot about how God gives each of us different gifts that He wants us to use to bring beauty and light into the world. There are times that traveling as much as we do makes the day-to-day of life with young children really difficult, but we talk a lot about how we choose to give a surrendered “yes” to where Jesus calls us to go to use the gifts He’s given us. We want each of our kids to give Him a surrendered “yes” to go on all the adventures He leads them into when they are old enough.
What is unique about your motherhood journey?
Because we’ve done parenting and family life in a non-traditional way, traveling with our kids from the time they were about two or three weeks old with both Drew and I working and making music, I’m keenly aware that I cannot do this mothering thing alone. I call myself a “recovering perfectionist,” and I have the personality that tends to not ask for help. I think that if I wasn’t in this particular job, I would have spent a LONG time as a mom thinking, “I’ve got this.” But being in a job that is pretty demanding on certain days has helped me HAVE to ask for help, and see the beauty of a community coming around you and your family. I’ve also parented mainly in a fishbowl for a lot of my journey as a mom, in a van with a band or in front of strangers at shows or venues, and I don’t do it perfectly. Learning that being a mom is NOT about being perfect, but about resting myself and my kids in the arms of the only One who loves perfectly has been the sweetest comfort.
What is something you’ve learned from your children that has made you stronger in Christ?
My kids KNOW that their dad and I love them. They even know it when they are acting like punks. I’ll never forget my little girl being in time out early on, around two and a half years old, after making some really bad decisions. She pointed at me saying, “But you still love me, Mom!” They know deep down that they are loved, even when they make mistakes, and that is a truth that I forgot over the years. I thought for so long that I had to “perform” or “be good enough” to be loved by God. When I see my kids make mistakes and make bad decisions, I’m grateful for a glimpse into the Father’s heart. Of course, He wants better for us, but when we make mistakes, even when we run away from Him on purpose, it doesn’t change the fact that we are HIS and that He loves us. He also loves us enough to not leave us as we are. There is discipline and grace all at once, and as I parent my kids, my understanding of His love for me has grown. Mainly, I’m so grateful to have learned that even though God has given me the job of being my kids’ mom, I am FIRST and FOREMOST His beloved daughter. And even though God has given my kids to me and my husband to raise, they are first and foremost His kids. This truth, that we are all God’s children BEFORE we are anything else, continues to change me and deepen my gratitude and wonder at His love for us.
Will you please share with me your upcoming children’s projects and how you were inspired by your own children?
I’m releasing a children’s board book called Who Sang the First Song? and a companion seven song EP called, Sing: Creation Songs. The book was completely inspired by my kids. My little girl actually asked me in passing one day, “Mom, who sang the first song?” I loved her question so much that instead of answering right away, I decided to do some research and write a book about it! The book does what kids do! It asks a lot of questions while loosely following the creation story, but it explores less of HOW God made the earth and more of WHY God made the earth. My hope is that the book will help children and the adults in their lives know WHOSE they are and WHAT they were made for!
I also wanted to write some music to go along with the book because we are a singing family, and often, if I can sing something it helps me believe it! So I wrote songs that were directly inspired by both God’s word and His beautiful creation. Each song is tied to specific Scripture, but is also full of rich imagery from the world around us. I wanted kids to be able to sing these songs and see evidence of what they were singing all around them. I wrote most of the songs for this record during the spring, and I’m pretty sure I ended up moving outside each time I wrote! I was completely inspired by creations’ song, whether it was the birds, or the stars, or the trees reaching high towards the heavens, or flowers blooming so colorfully that they looked ready for a party.
I’m hoping that as kids and their adults listen to the music that they would feel delighted and invited to sing along!
“You Love Me Best” has been such a transformative and reflective song for me both as a Mom and a believer. What songs of yours have been most inspired by your children?
Thanks for sharing that! I LOVE that song too. One of my producers, Ben Shive, wrote the lion’s share of that song and let me jump in for the last verse and chorus, but it’s one of those songs that always brings me back to the truth I need to know the most. God’s love is my starting place, my covering, my identity, my home. There are a few songs directly inspired by my kids. “As Sure As the Sun” would be the first. I wrote that when my husband and I started dreaming about beginning a family of our own. I wasn’t pregnant yet, but I wrote that song to carry the truths I hoped these little people I was dreaming about would know in the depths of their being, that God’s love is sure and that His mercy never runs out on us. “Sing,” is the song I wrote to go along with my new book Who Sang the First Song? That book and the song I wrote to accompany the words of the book carry truths that I hope my kids will know forever, that they are deeply loved by the Creator of the universe and that they were wonderfully made in His image. I hope they will sing the song of His love to the weary world around them with the gifts God has given them. Most of the songs on my kids’ EP were written with my own children in mind, but I actually wrote “Fear Not” at the kitchen table while we were all eating dinner together. We were trying to memorize Isaiah 43:1 at the time, and as we were reading through the verse that night. The melody came to me, so I sang it for the kids. Pretty soon we all started singing that chorus together! It has been a sweet thing for me to learn new ways of creating and writing as our family grows. A lot of days it looks less like heading into a quiet writing space to really focus on writing a song, and a lot more like singing as I go about the business of raising a family. I still do both, but there is a beautiful fluidity to the creative process for me now that I really enjoy!