For a number of months now, my followers have heard me hint in e-mails and on Facebook about the incredible things the Lord has done in the life of my sweet daughter, Elleina. I simply didn’t have time for the full story and I was waiting a bit longer to see how things continued to play out. God’s story is not yet over, but the time has now come for me to share. I want to say at the outset that I have the full blessing of my daughter to share every detail. It is her prayer and hope (and mine) that her story will set many other people free!
This is going to be a long one, friends. Buckle up. It’s a strange and crazy story, but it’s hard to deny that God has been at work, even if it’s not in the way we would have expected! God is often like that, though, isn’t He? He blows our theology out the window and challenges us to trust Him for who He is. Just when we think we have Him figured out, He reminds us, sometimes like a smack in the face, that “our thoughts are not His thoughts and His ways are not our ways.”
Some Background to Consider
The problem with theology is that it so often relies on our ability to reason, and there can be a dangerous trust in our own senses and intellectual capabilities that develops. Just ask the Pharisees! Of course, the Pharisees could not actually see it. Rather than admitting to their misunderstandings of God’s Word and humbly reevaluating their doctrine, they chose instead to condemn the Savior of the world! They stubbornly and pridefully refused to consider that they just might have been wrong in their interpretation, despite Jesus working miracles right in front of them and challenging them to “believe because of the works I have done.” I wonder if the Pharisees used (abused) the “sufficiency of Scripture” argument and condemned others for trusting “experience”? One thing we know they did was attribute God’s works to Satan!
Forgive me if I sound harsh. I know we are all in different places and I don’t want to needlessly condemn anyone, but I want you to understand that theology simply cannot be divorced from experience. What is theology if never tested and proved by our experiences? We must have a practical application to all of our theological positions. We live in the world and how we deal with and interact with it is influenced by our theology and our theology will confirm it, both to us and to a world that is watching us.
I want to also address “hearing the voice of God.” If we hear a voice, there are just three options: either it’s God, the enemy, or our own imaginations. There are simply no other options. Here are the issues: First, we have to seriously consider the danger of calling God’s voice the enemy’s voice! Secondly, any doctrine that theologizes us into ignoring God’s voice must be viewed as a potentially dangerous doctrine.
If you hear something, you know you hear it! If you are unsure, then perhaps it is indeed your imagination and nothing more. But, if you take just a little bit of time to research church history, you will find that many great men of faith from our past did not hold a cessationist view and, in fact, heard God speak and even “prophesied” about events that were to come (John Knox, for one). “Hearing God’s voice” is not something relegated to only certain “weird” denominations.
And I could go on about great men and women of faith who had dreams and visions. Men such as John Bunyan, author of the second-best-selling book of all time next to the Bible–a book that God gave him in a dream—and St. Patrick, who had dreams and visions of the people of Ireland that God wanted him to go back to and evangelize.
Or what about Betsy TenBoom, who, as she wasted away in a concentration camp, told her sister Corrie in great, accurate detail of a place where they would take in former prisoners and minister to them. Are we to say that these giants of the faith were hearing the devil or caught up in their own imaginations? In the words of Paul, God-forbid! Dear friends, we must be on guard of making God into what we suppose Him to be based on clever doctrines that twist Scripture and ignore the truth in front of us. That is idolatry!
I digress somewhat, but I think these are important background points and questions to consider before diving into the story, particularly for those of you who take a hard-line view of cessationism (the belief that the miraculous gifts are not for today). I believe this story will challenge such thinking (as it challenged mine), and I want to prepare you ahead of time so that you might not go down the same road as the Pharisees. Jesus prayed, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children.” Our seminaries and Bible schools have often blinded and puffed up many, but I pray that we can all see as little children so God may reveal Himself to us, and I pray you see Him in this story...
(Note: Some names have been changed).
My husband, Jon, and I had noticed some things happening in our daughter’s life in 2018 that were troubling us. She was becoming disrespectful and angry. Elleina was constantly depressed and it was like walking on glass around her, trying not to offend her or hurt her feelings. She was also struggling with adrenal fatigue and lack of good sleep, so that didn’t help. There were times when she literally couldn’t walk due to such extreme exhaustion. Debilitating anxiety and panic attacks were other issues that plagued her constantly, and OCD was also becoming a struggle. Her anxiety had caused a struggle in our longtime friendship with another family (and their daughter, Ellie) in our church that we dearly loved to the point that she couldn’t even look at their Christmas photo without a panic attack. In January 2019, I finally decided to just do a fast and cry out to the Lord for some direction.
A couple of weeks later, on our family vacation, I felt the Lord was showing me that Elleina was struggling with spiritual warfare…something demonic. God led us to some changes that seemed to help with our relationship, but then after a second fast in April for her health, He led us in a completely unexpected direction so we could get help for the demonic battle we were up against.
Because of her overwhelming, debilitating anxiety, she didn’t want to share anything with anyone, so we couldn’t take Elleina to our pastor or anyone else for counseling. In fact, I tried. We met with a lady she didn’t even know (so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed) and it lasted about ten minutes before she rudely and angrily exercised her right to leave. I was heartbroken.
Several years ago, due to some “coincidences” that were clearly God’s leading, I had stepped outside the comfort zone of my denomination and gone to my friend’s Pentecostal church one Sunday where she and the pastor, Andrew, had prayed over me concerning some overwhelming guilt I had been dealing with. It was the kind of guilt that, when I started to think about it, would lead me to an unending flood of tears that literally would not stop unless I simply made a choice to stop thinking about it and distract myself. As they laid hands on me and prayed, I was weeping and I literally felt something lift off of me…and they felt it, as well. Since that day, I have never struggled with that guilt again! It completely left that day. I am so thankful to the Lord for removing what I know was demonization from me.
Because I knew what had happened to me at this church and the freedom it brought, I thought it would be good to take Elleina for prayer and I had some things to give to another member there anyway. So we went. The first thing that Pastor Andrew prayed over Elleina was against a “spirit of suicide.” No one shared that information with him…it was the Lord who told him. What he did not know was that Elleina had tried to commit suicide twice, once when she was only eight years old! That is obviously not normal 8-year-old behavior! God, in His mercy, had spoken to her as she started to sink down into the bathtub and told her not to do it.
After church, Pastor Andrew said he really felt the Lord was telling him we needed to come regularly for a while. He said he didn’t believe coming for one prayer here and there was going to be the answer. I said I would pray about it and respected his opinion because he was clearly in tune with the Holy Spirit, but I said I knew we had differences in theology and I knew how hard that might be. I just wasn’t sure about that idea, since we were members at a different church. He understood but said he really felt the Lord was saying that and it wasn’t something he usually told visitors. He also said he believed the Lord was going to do a lot in Konur’s and Elleina’s lives. Due to his chronic illness, my husband had not been attending church regularly, but Andrew said he didn’t think Jon would mind us coming by ourselves. (He ended up being right about both these things).
The next morning, I was praying and still wrestling over the decision, but the Lord led me to the verse, “By their fruits you shall know them.” I knew that this church was a congregation that is doing big things for the Lord (the whole congregation is heavily involved with ending abortion). Their fruit was good…they were building the kingdom. I had seen the changes in a friend of ours, too, and how he was less arrogant (apparently he was saved there). There was so much love there in that congregation and you could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. But it still felt “scary” in a way. Then I heard the Lord speak to me,
How much clearer do I need to be?
He had done so much through that fast in revealing things to me and in starting the healing process for Elleina, and then He had used Andrew to specifically tell us what to do, but I was allowing fear to stand in the way.
I had already been planning to take that following week to specifically fast and pray for Jon’s and Elleina’s health. At the end of that week, I felt God showing me that Jon’s health issues are not completely physical and that there is something demonic going on…which makes sense considering some things that have happened in our lives and the fact that we’ve tried just about everything in the realm of natural healing and he is still sick. That Saturday, I went to the Cities4Life (a pro-life ministry I am involved with) picnic and got to talking with my friend, Linda, who also attends that church. Before I shared any of those revelations with her, she said, “I think Jon’s issues are demonic,” and she told me that the previous week at their prayer meeting, she had felt a strong leading to pray against demonic oppression over Jon and our whole family. I felt this was confirmation of what God had already been showing me.
I decided we would step out in faith and see what God had in store.
We began going about every-other Sunday. On April 6, Elizabeth Johnston, along with pastor Andrew, led the Day of Mourning in New York over the recent legislation legalizing abortion all the way to birth in that state. We have been involved in pro-life ministry in the past and wanted to participate in the event by attending our local event that had the message streamed in. Elleina was not feeling well enough to go, however, so she stayed home and watched from there.
During one part of the service, Heidi St. John felt led to pray against a spirit of fear. It was a powerful prayer and I remember praying along, specifically for Elleina. The next morning, as Elleina was waking up, she heard the Lord say, “I want you to text Ellie and tell her you would like to sit with her at lunch and I want you to apologize.” She very simply said, “Okay,” and rolled back over to sleep. That day at church, Elleina sat with Ellie at the potluck lunch afterward and it was as though God instantly healed her of her anxiety! She asked forgiveness of her friend and they were able to finally talk through some misunderstandings without Elleina suffering any anxiety or panic attacks.
One Sunday shortly thereafter, when I was attending “our church,” I prayed on the way there that God would do something big to really make Himself known. I was missing “the other church” and wanted to be there that morning where I felt His power and presence so strongly. The Bible reading that morning was the passage with the verse God had given me, “by their fruits you shall know them.” Then, our pastor preached about healing. It was Luke 13, about the woman with a “disabling spirit” who had been sick for 18 years…the same number of years that Jon has been sick!
It was such a huge boost to my faith that I started singing and praising God on the way home. (Glad no one was with me to hear me singing at the top of my lungs…LOL!) I was so certain of Jon’s healing. (God had been confirming it in multiple other ways, as well). This is where the story gets weird… All of a sudden, I had a flash of an image in my mind. It was a carving of a bear that had been given to me by someone I had known in California years ago who was involved in the occult (though I hadn’t known that at the time). My immediate thought was, “That’s weird. But I’m glad I threw that away!” I hadn’t been thinking about anything related to it, but it had just flashed in my mind out of nowhere.
Enslaved by Anxiety and Depression
The next day, as I was outside working in the garden, Elleina came out to talk to me. She was sad and depressed, so I just continued to encourage her that God loves her and that He would help her. “But Mommy,” she said, “you just don’t know how terrible a person I am. You don’t know the kinds of thoughts I have…” I immediately felt the Holy Spirit say to me, “That isn’t her.” “Elleina,” I said, “if you are having horrible, blasphemous thoughts, that isn’t you.” I immediately saw a look of relief wash over her face. “Really? Are you sure? How do you know?” “Because,” I said, “I know you. I know you love the Lord and would never want to think about such things. I know how hard you’ve tried to ‘take every thought captive’ and how much you want to do what’s right.”
She still struggled with the idea, feeling like she was horrible for having demons. “But Elleina,” I said, “that is the enemy telling you are terrible and this isn’t something you have to live with!” I explained to her that the only way they can have access to torment us is if we allow it by giving “place” to the devil and giving him a foothold with unconfessed sin (Eph. 4:26-27). I asked if she had any unconfessed sin in her life that she needed to repent of, and she said, “Yes, but it’s just so hard and I can’t let it go.” After some coaxing, she finally admitted that she still felt a sense of bitterness toward me for not spending enough time with her and for not having a close relationship with her. “I feel like if I let it go, I’m just going to be disappointed again.” I told her it was true that I could not promise I would never fail her again and never hurt her again. All I could promise was my best. But she had an obligation to forgive, as the Bible says, “70 x 7 times.” She had to let go and give it to God.
We talked for a while and I shared a prayer I had come across in one of Derek Prince’s books (I don’t agree with everything he says, but that should go without saying, as I don’t think there is anyone I agree 100% with). She was finally able to just trust the Lord with her pain and let go of the bitterness in faith. She prayed the prayer from her heart and immediately felt a sense of peace and relief. (Incidentally, at some point I also prayed a prayer against any demonic curses on our mother-daughter relationship. We had always struggled, just as my own mother and I had, and just as my mom’s mom and she had. There was a generational pattern of coldness. It made a very remarkable difference in our relationship!)
Right after Elleina went inside, I noticed a large bin next to the shed. I thought it was strange that it was sitting out because I didn’t remember putting it there. For some reason, I started looking through it. I lifted a little box and sitting right there under it was that little bear carving! I nearly freaked out! Either I hadn’t thrown it away like I remembered doing, or something demonic happened to get it there (we believe it when it’s a “missionary story,” so why can that not happen here?), but clearly the Lord had shown it to me so I would recognize that something evil was definitely associated with it and it needed to go! We destroyed it that evening as a family. Konur told me recently that he had always felt like there was something evil in that area of the shed every time he went out there.
On May 1, shortly after this breakthrough with Elleina and subsequent prayers at church, she told me she was considering sharing and I encouraged her to. I told her that the more we share, the more it takes away the enemy’s power over us and shows him as defeated. Still, I was surprised one morning when I saw that this girl, who had been so enslaved by her anxiety and depression, had posted this to her Instagram page.
I’m sure when you start reading this you’ll begin thinking you know me, but I think you’ll end much differently.
The past seven years have not been pleasant ones. They’ve been filled with fatigue, loneliness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, never sleeping well, obsessive-compulsive habits, self-hatred, and internal torment, along with a multitude of other issues, mostly and/or all due to demonic oppression. You can call me nuts, and/or a little “out there”, but I’ve ignored the spiritual source for too long, all the while addressing my incessant troubles to the emotional, the mental, or the physical. I had given up. I was hopeless. I thought that I knew my life was going to be stuck in that endless loop of hopelessness and death right up until it killed me. I wasn’t addressing the true spiritual problem though, one that we often in our society tend to ignore constantly.
No. I’m not “cured”, but I’m on my way, and I trust that in God’s perfect timing I will be fully healed, and my faith has never been so strong.
God is good, God is powerful, and there are real, relevant spiritual battles that we MUST recognize. The Bible makes the spiritual realm very clear, why do we ignore it?
If you’re struggling, take heart! Christ has overcome the world! ❤️🙏❤️
I think this is one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen of my sweet Elleina!
Set Free from the Enemy!
During the rest of the year, we saw continued changes like layers peeled off an onion as we kept attending the new church. In the summer at one of the services, the pastor and several others prayed over Elleina. Andrew told her that he felt the Lord showing him that she was “wearing a mask” and that she needed to just be who God created her to be rather than try to please everyone around her. She shared with me later how much of a struggle that had been for her, always wanting to please others and look and act the way that was expected. After that Sunday, she bought a top hat and started wearing funky clothes. LOL! It is beautiful to see her just be who she is inside and be comfortable in that. She finally has such joy and freedom in who she is in Christ!
During the same service, Linda came up to me and asked, “Do you know about the cutting?” Elleina had told me a month or so before that she had been cutting. I shared that with Linda and she told me there is a demon of cutting (like the one that tortured the demoniac of Gadara). She said, “This might seem strange, but I am going to talk to the demon.” Without any theatrics or drama, she simply looked into Elleina’s eyes and said, “I am talking to the demon of cutting and in the name of Jesus, I command you to come out.” I honestly thought it was unnecessary, as Elleina was no longer cutting, and it didn’t look like anything had really happened at that moment. But later, Elleina told me she no longer had the urge to cut herself at all. It had completely gone away!
Also during the same service, Linda’s daughter said she felt like there was something demonic related to some of Elleina’s drawings. It was like a lightbulb went off in Elleina’s head and she said, “I know what ones they are!” Kim, Andrew’s wife, said she believed there was something under Elleina’s bed, and I said I felt the same thing. When we got home, Elleina showed me the drawings first. She said that in one of her darkest times of deepest pain and depression, she had put all of it on paper to get it out. I couldn’t believe the darkness of those drawings and the torturous things I was looking at…my daughter in chains, being tortured by knives and demonic thoughts. All her pain and mental anguish were depicted in the drawings. The demon was telling her horrible things and it broke my heart to see her torment on paper.
As I leafed through the thick notebook, I decided I would take “revenge” on that evil creature. On the last page, I took a black marker and blotted out those awful words. I changed the terrible face of that demon above her to a happy one, and I wrote positive, biblical words about who she is in Christ. I put a smile on her face and I blacked out all the knives. We then took that book outside and burned it. I’ve never seen a more beautiful picture of a bonfire in my whole life! I go back and look at it sometimes just to be reminded. It is like looking at the enemy’s defeat.
After we dealt with the drawings, we went back to look under the bed. I couldn’t believe it when we pulled out a mask she had created! It was creepy and we knew there was something wrong about it. She immediately destroyed it and threw the pieces away.
Despite still struggling with sleep issues, adrenal fatigue, and constant exhaustion, Elleina is a totally different girl and back to her happy self like she was as a little child. Instead of being enslaved by her anxiety and literally never letting me even mention the word to others, she now wants me to share her whole story to help people! She has the joy of the Lord and a closer walk with Him than ever before. We are like friends now and have a closer relationship than either of us ever thought possible. Last January seems like a different lifetime. I sometimes can’t even believe it was only a year ago that she was so drastically different.
God is Still Walking Us Through It
I haven’t even shared the part about my dream a couple years ago where God revealed to me the spiritual warfare and journey that we would go on. I knew immediately when I woke up…in fact before I woke up…that the Lord was telling me something important (I asked in my dream what it was, but He would not tell me…it’s been revealed over time). Nor am I sharing how He led us away from our previous natural doctor and to our current one who is a strong believer and has helped people heal from Lyme and many other “incurable” sicknesses.
Though it’s a slow road, we’re already seeing exciting physical improvements for Elleina’s adrenal fatigue. Nor am I sharing many other little details of this strange journey. Nor do I even remember them all! God has continually walked us along this path and we just keep taking the next step in faith.
Another verse the Lord gave me throughout this journey was, “the Spirit will lead you into all truth.” Truly, He has been faithful to do that! I am so thankful that I listened to Him and stepped out in faith. I am so thankful for a body of believers who take prayer so seriously and truly trust God to answer what they ask. They knew things about her that no one told them…the Holy Spirit revealed it to them. Though Jon was hesitant about us going there at first, he’s watched the transformation before his eyes and can’t deny what the Lord has done through their simple faith. They pray believing in a way I’ve never seen any other church congregation do in my entire life.
There are many ways that the Lord has grown me over the past year and changed my thinking on some things that I really took for granted as biblical.
I have read many books and articles from various perspectives and I understand things now that I didn’t before and I see that I had some Pharisaical beliefs. My faith was also more influenced by our Western culture than I realized (as is true of most of the Church here). I still don’t agree 100% with all the Pentecostal views, but I understand them better and their biblical defense for believing the way that they do. And what is really important is that we agree on essentials and recognize that with all the denominations that are true Christ-followers. The most important thing is that we love Jesus and recognize that we won’t all agree on everything, but we’ll all have our theology straightened out in heaven. We get so hung up on these things to our own detriment and the detriment of the Church.
What I do know for certain is that God led us there to bring healing to my sweet girl, and He has taught me so much about prayer and faith and listening to the Holy Spirit. He has done many wonderful things in Konur’s life there, as well. He gets all the glory! It is my hope and prayer, as well as my daughter’s, that her story will help bring healing and restoration to others who are struggling with problems and struggles they can’t even fully understand. There is a spiritual realm and we are in a warfare, whether we recognize it or not. The Bible tells us that we are in a battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. But Satan’s greatest tactic is to lull us into complacency and convince us that our warfare is only against the world and the flesh.
Truly, these are enemies, as well. But if we attribute every spiritual problem to a battle against the world or the flesh, then we will never gain victory against the devil when he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Scripture memory and taking every thought captive is the solution for our struggles against the world and the flesh, but no amount of Scripture memory will get rid of demonization and the torturous voices that lie and deceive. I can’t tell you how discouraging and demoralizing it was for Elleina to hear that advice over and over when she simply could not gain victory in this way. Only casting them out in the name of Jesus will bring true freedom, as it did for her!
If you are struggling with victory over such darkness, take hope! Find a godly Christian pastor or counselor who understands demonization and deliverance and don’t be afraid to get the help you need. Pray and ask the Lord and He will guide you!
Here are some books on spiritual warfare that have been helpful to us in this journey…
- My Great Big Ginormous List of Lifeschooling Curricula Recommendations - August 5, 2020
- Help Kids Establish a Daily Devotional Habit with Minno - July 27, 2020
- Tips and Deals for Saving Money - June 17, 2020