In an Instant
by Joanne Ellison

Beloved making space for God friends, I write this blog with a heavy heart. Around 3:45 yesterday morning I woke up because I smelled smoke. I searched the house and everything looked ok. Then I went outside and saw fire embers raining down in my yard and heard fire trucks coming down my street. My church, St. Andrews Mount Pleasant was on fire.


photo by William Ellison

My husband called our priest to tell him that the church was on fire.  As we spent the morning watching the fire fighters and praying, I was reminded how last week in my quiet time I sensed the Lord saying: “Each day is a gift. You never know what will happen in an instant. Always have a grateful heart.” The following day my husband had a cycling accident and I recalled those words. It was in an instant that he hit a rock and broke ribs and his clavicle. Today was the same…

In an instant, the church was in flames…

In an instant, your loved one dies…

Your health fails…

You lose your job…

Life is uncertain. We do not know what each day may hold but we do know who holds our future and that is the Lord Jesus. Every day is a precious gift and a grateful heart is good medicine for the soul. One of the daily practices that I have is to start my day thanking the Lord. I don’t remember to do it every day, but when I do I am reminded of His faithfulness. It is something I do to reposition my thinking; to remind myself that I am His and He holds my day in His hands.

So let’s challenge each other to not take anything for granted. Give your spouse or friend a hug, say the things you need to say to show love and support. Let’s not put off the good deeds that we feel led to do. Because in an instant something could change.

In an instant…..

But God will be there to see you through. And you will once again rejoice in His goodness because He is who He says He is– faithful and true.



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  1. Audrey Jaudon

    Well said Joanne! I’m lifting you and your entire church family up in prayer during this most difficult time. GOD will give St. Andrews Mt. Pleasant beauty for ashes,oil of joy,and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.He will never leave us nor forsake us, especially during times like these.Love & peace to all.

    • joanneellison

      You are so right Audrey! God will turn this for good. He is faithful. Thanks for your prayers dear friend!

  2. flora Orvin

    Praying that Blunt will heal quickly. Thank you for this beautiful message. Miss you. Much love, Flora (Orvin)

    • joanneellison

      Thank you Flora! Blount is doing so much better. And St. Andrews church will grow as a body through this.

  3. Bonnie Kolmodin

    Joanne, these words are so true. I remember o day saying that I was so bored. The next day my eight year old nephew was stuck by a truck and died. Every time I think of saying I’ bored, I am reminded of that incident that broke my family’s hearts. Some people have commented the church fire was punishment, or warning from God. No, God knows His people in this church and the desire to reach many, not just St. Andrew’s parishiners. This is a time of unity for the church, but it is also an invitation for His people to be forced to perhaps worship in many other locations., and not necessarily with those always sitting next to us. I believe He is giving us an opportunity to spread His name to those we have yet to encounter because of this very unfortunate event. Thank you, Joanne, and God bless all.

    • joanneellison

      You are so right Bonnie. God is not punishing His people. This is an opportunity for our church to do as you said- grow in unity and reach out to others in the body of Christ, allowing others to reach out to us. The outreach from the community has been amazing. God will turn this for good. He always has the last word!

  4. Ellen Auten

    Beautifully written, Joanne. My heart has been so heavy since hearing the news of the fire yesterday morning. The St. Andrews family is in the prayers of so many in our community. One thing I have learned from you, God always has us in loving arms. Prayers for Blount’s healing as well.

  5. Tina

    St Andrews Episcopal Church and her members are always close in my thoughts and prayers because of my dear friend in Christ, Rosemary. …also because I have been blessed by your teaching, your out reach to me personally and too many others who I simply meet along the way who also are deeply grateful for the St Andrews Episcopal church family. I am praying with sincere purpose to ask our Heavenly Father to lift up The Drawing nearer to God ministry, your Pastor’s , all the wonderful teacher’s who pass thru your church and the awsome women and men of faith who share their testimonials for the Glory to God . sending LOL .

    • joanneellison

      Thank you Tina for your kind words. God is faithful and though we mourn the loss of the building we know that HIs work at St. Andrews will continue.

  6. Anna Straus

    Joanne, I just want you to know that I’m lifting St Andrews up in prayer and also praying for a quick recovery for Blount! My heart is very heavy having just heard what happened! Love you & I just keep hearing that God will make Beauty from ashes! Love, Anna

    • joanneellison

      Precious Anna, thanks for your prayers. You are so right- God will turn this around for good. He has a plan and as we watch it unfold we can trust Him.

  7. Judy Morast-Morin

    Joanne, thank you for your faithfulness. So grateful that no one was in the church at the time of the fire, God is Good. Sending prayers of Emotional healing to all through the next steps and season of St. Andrews.

  8. Rachel d Siegfried

    Thank you, Joanne, for the beautiful post.

    Seeing the picture of the church burning
    made my eyes well up.
    I guess I am still grieving a bit.

    Please thank Blount for the picture.
    I still think he should quit his day job.

    How true your post is.
    How quickly life changes-
    In an instant….

    And, you realize that
    You would give anything
    To relive those moments
    that you took for granted.

    But it is too late.

    You don’t get a second chance.


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