Your Will Be Done: Rebecca Ellerman’s Story | Revive Our Hearts Episode

Dannah Gresh: When Rebecca Ellerman visited the hospital to deliver her fourth child, she didn’t realize what a journey she would be embarking on.

Rebecca Ellerman: I woke up that morning and had a feeling in my stomach. It didn’t seem like the other three births. The baby was born very easily—7 lbs. 14 oz.—right on time. There was nothing to be in the delivery that showed anything at all. But as soon as he was born, there was my bedside nurse, and her first words were, “Oh, it’s another floppy.”

I saw my OB, a sweet woman who had delivered my other three children. I saw her back up and just be staring at that baby with a deep concern. It was her eyes on him that I just watched because I knew she knew that …

Dannah Gresh: When Rebecca Ellerman visited the hospital to deliver her fourth child, she didn’t realize what a journey she would be embarking on.

Rebecca Ellerman: I woke up that morning and had a feeling in my stomach. It didn’t seem like the other three births. The baby was born very easily—7 lbs. 14 oz.—right on time. There was nothing to be in the delivery that showed anything at all. But as soon as he was born, there was my bedside nurse, and her first words were, “Oh, it’s another floppy.”

I looked around and I thought, What in the world does that mean?

I saw my OB, a sweet woman who had delivered my other three children. I saw her back up and just be staring at that baby with a deep concern. It was her eyes on him that I just watched because I knew she knew that this wasn’t going to be easy, and that maybe this baby that she had just helped to be born wasn’t going to survive.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. It’s Friday, March 3, 2023. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Dannah, there’s quite a few places in the Scripture where God changed someone’s name.

Dannah: Yes.

Nancy: The book of Genesis tells us that’s what God did for Abram.

Dannah: Right.

Nancy: And Jacob.

Dannah: So he did!

Nancy: And then in the New Testament, Jesus changed the name of Simon.

Dannah: You know, I’m seeing a trend here!

Nancy: Today we’re going to hear about a young man whose name was changed at a critical juncture in his life.

Our guest today is Rebecca Ellerman. We know her as Becky. Becky wanted to change the name of her son. And that story reveals something important about the relationship that Becky’s family has with the Lord. 

Becky serves on the staff here at Revive Our Hearts. She’s part of a team that reaches out to friends who support this ministry. She thanks them for their investment in Revive Our Hearts. She prays for them. She shares with them how they can become more connected to our various outreaches. And Becky is also one of our Revive Partners herself.

Dannah: As am I, Nancy, and I love it. It’s actually one of my favorite roles here at Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Partners played a really crucial role in helping us bring the Revive Our Hearts message to you each weekday and to women all over the world. A partner simply agrees to do three things:

  • Pray for the Revive Our Hearts
  • Share about the message of Revive Our Hearts.
  • And make a financial gift each month to make it all possible.

Nancy: And, Dannah, it means so much to me that you and Bob are Revive Partners. And Becky . . . listen to this: Becky and six other members of her family are all Revive Partners.

We’re about to get to know this family better. The story starts in that hospital delivery room. Doctors were rushing around trying to save the life of Becky’s baby.

Becky: We had named him Trey Daniel Ellerman. My pediatrician was the first one to say, “I need to tell you that it looks like, preliminarily, that he has Trisomy 21.”

Dannah: Trisomy 21 is the medical term for Down Syndrome. 

Becky: And he said, “That’s interesting that you named him Trey, because like, “tri /Trey.”

I didn’t like it at all, to be honest. It seemed like a label, and it seemed like a mistake—the name. But Daniel was absolutely the word he was supposed to be named.

And so, I just stayed with that. We started to hear reports from the NICU and the nurses that he had not only Trisomy 21, but he had pulmonary hypertension, which is basically, in layman’s terms, the heart and the lungs are not working well together.

The doctors were looking at all sorts of numbers and panels. They were incredible people, not just reporting to us everything, but all the information that was coming in to me. What they would say is, “Becky, we need to do this . . Do we have your permission?” And they would say, “If you don’t grant it, he won’t make it.”

And I was, like, “Well, then, yes.”

So in Day 2 when they told me, “He doesn’t look like he’s going to make it,” and “Do you want to see him one more time?” I walked through that NICU door, and they pointed him out. They said, “That’s him. That’s Trey.” And I just fainted. I fell into my friend’s arms. I’m, like, “That cannot be my child.”

He was so blown up with medicines and steroids that he looked like you could just take a pin and pop him. He was huge—and not in a healthy way. He was bouncing on this machine. I said, “I can’t do it. I cannot do that.”

So I came back to my room. I needed to be alone with the Lord. I remember at that time I said to the doctors, “Will it be okay if I change his name?” And they’re, like, “Becky, you can do anything you want. This is your child.”

I just remember sitting there going, “This is Your child, Lord. It’s not my will, but it’s Your will that will be done in this matter. He is Your will.” And I mean, I literally remember placing him in my mind and my heart into the Lord’s hand and just saying, “He’s Your will, and whatever you decide is Yours.”

And so, I changed his name to Will Daniel Ellerman.

It’s probably been the greatest joy of knowing that’s where his name came from. It was at that point where . . . It’s kind of like when Jesus was in the Garden saying, “Not my will for what the suffering I’m bearing right now, but Yours be done.” I felt like that. I felt like I was at that bottom, but my heavenly Father would hear my prayer. I really gave him to the Lord, and it was His will.

When I was hearing so much information like, “He might not make it,” I remember there was a bench outside of the hospital, and it was right by a fountain. I just found myself there a lot. It was September, so it was really pleasant and beautiful, and it was peaceful. I love the sound of water. I just felt really near the Lord there.

So that would be a place that I could just go and ponder and think and remind myself. I took my Bible out there, and I would just open it to His Word or those messages that I was receiving from people. I would then look up the Scripture and underline them and date them. So I’m really grateful for that time and that place I could go that was away from it all. That was where I think the Lord really grounded me that He’s over this and that I am held and that Will’s life is in His everlasting arms.

But I needed, as I do now, I need to come away with the Lord, and that place became a refuge for me that I went to almost every day—at least once—and would just be still with the Lord with my Bible and in prayer.

I think, just over and over again, it was through that stillness of the Lord and the movement of the water, realizing that the Spirit is still moving, and that He’s still informing, and He’s over this and under this and all around this. It gave me a real confidence and trust that the Lord was working all things according to His will.

Dannah: As Becky came day by day to the Lord in desperation, Psalm 56:3 became real in a whole new way.

Becky: “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee,” in God, His Word I’d praise.

And for my children, because they lived in the hospital for a long time, it was a really scary place for them. We spoke that out of belief and trust and confidence that God was true to His Word. We sang it. We believed it. We meditated on it. We lived it.

I think it really breathed life into all my kids. So much so that his sister that’s just eleven months and three weeks older is now a NICU nurse in a level three hospital in Arkansas. Her first week on the job she called me in absolute tears saying, “Mom, now I know what you lived through. Like, seeing these moms with these babies.” She had Down Syndrome kids for her first week.

I think the reality of this is God’s purpose and no weapon formed against us shall prevail. This is His purpose for our lives. We’re getting to see the goodness of God, like Psalm 27 says. “I would have despaired had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord. Be strong. Take heart. Be of good courage [whatever your version is] and wait on the Lord” (see vv. 13–14).

So beginning Day 3 and going forward, I was actually enabled by the Spirit to go into the NICU and actually look at him and smile.

When you have a child that’s got pulmonary hypertension on all these medicines, their counsel to me was, “If you say a word to your child or speak or he hears your voice, he will likely go into cardiac arrest.”

At the same time, I’d gotten moved to another room. These doctors and nurses came into the room and kind of laid out what they saw and the prognosis . . . and it was not good. And they said, “We’re probably going to have to put him on what’s called an ecmo machine. And you can only be on that for about ten days, or he’ll be brain dead. And he may be brain dead even if he goes on this ecmo machine.”

I was told I couldn’t talk to him.

I couldn’t sing to him.

I couldn’t pray with him.

He couldn’t hear my voice.

So, as a mother, to be told you could do harm to your child by speaking, I mean, that just didn’t seem right. And yet, I just trusted that God would work all these things through.

I had a friend come to see me about Day 19 of this journey. Things were kind of stable. There wasn’t a lot of improvement at all. He had yet to open his eyes. When you have a child like Will, they’re hypertonic, which means they don’t have much energy or strength anywhere in their body. So, they don’t even have strength to open their eyes sometimes or lift their head or look around. They’re dormant. And that’s why that machine had to come and do all the work.

So, what was beautiful about it is this friend came to me, and she said, “Becky, why in the world are they not letting you sing to your baby?”

I had a song that I sang to all my kids—the same song. It’s a little silly song, but it’s: “I’ll love you forever.” I sang it to all of them. It’s a book. We’ve read it to all my kids. They knew it. Will had heard it in utero.

And I remember thinking, She’s right.

She said, “Becky, what if him hearing your voice actually brought life to him? Maybe he needs to hear your voice. What have you got to lose?”

I prayed about it for two days. I remember, Day 21, walking in that room, and I had the kindest nurse. I said, “I’m going to sing. I’m going to sing a song that I’ve always sung:”

(Becky singing) “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

That was the moment his eyes opened for the very first time.

It’s incomprehensible, really, that he knew my voice. There were bells going on in the room. It was loud. But he stopped. He was still. He looked at me—I’ll never forget it. I knew that I had received such a blessing from the Lord. And also I received the awareness that I was really there for a purpose for him. And as well, I was serving a purpose for the Lord with this baby.

Dannah: For the first year of his life, Will was in and out of hospitals. That includes one very dramatic moment right before Will’s first Christmas.

Becky: I had noticed that there was something not right with Will. I remember saying, “He just doesn’t look good, and I really don’t know what’s wrong.”

Dannah: Becky took Will to a doctor’s office located in a hospital. During that appointment, Will stopped breathing. The doctor sprang into action and gave Becky emergency instructions.

Becky: “We have to run, and you need to pat him on the back, and you need to pray.”

I mean, I ran, we ran, from one end of that hospital to the other, and went into a PICU. They said, “He is oxygenating in the seventies right now, which is not good.” And they put a trach in him immediately. I’d never even seen a trach before—I didn’t know one thing about it. “I’m amazed and astounded that he had lived three months without a trach,” the doctor said. “He has no airway, it’s not even opened.”

So all of a sudden I’m thinking, The pieces are coming together. He had to have a trach to live.

So, fast forward six months later, he was well enough to be able to come home. He came home at a year, as he was turning one. He was on forty-one meds a day that I would have to draw with a syringe. And the thing that had not been addressed yet was his heart. So, all along, we knew we needed to have him grow in weight so that he could actually have that heart surgery.

Dannah: Becky was waiting for Will to grow physically so doctors could perform surgery on his heart. During this time, Becky began to grow in her relationship with the Lord. He was getting truth deep into her heart.

Becky: I was invited to my neighbor’s house with some other young moms, and we did Lies Women Believe.

Dannah: Lies Women Believe is a book by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Becky: All of a sudden I got to know Nancy on the radio and hearing her voice teaching. It just became our daily routine with my kids and everything. We just listened to Nancy.

Nancy (on air): Anything that makes me need God is a blessing.

Becky: I always felt like Nancy was in my living room, speaking to just me when she would teach. I was just desperate. I probably didn’t even know how desperate I was, but I know that it was a lifeline to me.

Dannah: Becky wanted to share that lifeline with others, so she joined the Revive Our Hearts monthly partner team, Revive Partners. That meant she told others about Revive Our Hearts. She prayed for the ministry, and she supported the ministry financially each month.

Becky: I just wanted to be part of seeing what I was God doing in lives all around the world. I mean, I just grabbed a part of it. The Monthly Partner program was really just being unfolded in 2007, and I was first to jump in and say, “Yes, I want to be a Monthly Partner. I want to give to this ministry that has given to me.” But also, I was getting to see how it’s impacted my own family and just women that I’m in life with.

Dannah:  In 2009, Becky was excited to travel to Little Rock, Arkansas for a Revive Our Hearts recording session. Becky’s son Luke was thirteen at the time, and he came, too.

Luke Ellerman: I remember being one of maybe a small handful of men there, which, at first, was different for me but became very comfortable early on. I really loved to see other women like my mom who were passionate about the same things. It was really cool and instrumental in my own faith.

The whole time we were there, it was on Proverbs 31, and the verse that continued to come to mind, even today when I think back, is, “Smiling at the future, laughing at the future.” Izt could not have been a more perfect passage or perfect chapter to read through for somebody who lives out what the Proverbs 31 woman is.

Dannah: Luke was just a teenager when God spoke to his heart at that recording session, but it made such a big impression on him that a few years later, he became a Revive Partner. He and his wife Meagan are still part of the team.

Luke: I’ve seen the impact that even a small dollar amount can do for the sake of the kingdom, for the sake of the gospel. We’re all impacted by that. It’s a small way of thanking an organization but also investing in something that I believe is very focused on discipling women of all ages from all places around the world.

Dannah: So in this family, Becky, Luke and Meagan are all monthly partners. But they’re not the only Revive Partners in this family. 

Becky’s daughter Annie remembers listening to Revive Our Hearts with her mom. She remembers her mom sharing resources from Revive Our Hearts during small group discussions.

Annie: All growing up, I don’t really remember our house not being used for something ministry oriented or my mom getting to pour into women.

Becky: The door opened for a group of young moms with young children to come around my house every week, and we went through Lies Women Believe and Adorned and Seeking Him together and some other resources as well.

I think that I saw myself in the place of these young moms when I was a young mom myself and had four little babies, and I really did not know how to do this well. I didn’t know who was going to come. I mean, I just put it in His hands, and more and more came, and it was just an amazing experience, even for my daughters. They were part of it, too. They would watch the little kids while we would be doing this Bible study.

Dannah: Here’s Becky’s daughter Sarah Peyton.

Sarah Peyton: I just remember my sister and I would peep over the counter. We would walk downstairs, act like we were getting water from the fridge, and we would just peek over. I sure remember thinking to myself, How many women in their twenties really wanted to know the Lord more, really studied His Word?

I just remember being excited that they were all there. I thought it was so cool that there were older twenty-year-old women who wanted to be there and get poured into. They had a deep hunger to know Him. I think that’s even affected me even more than I can even imagine right now in my twenties.

Becky: My girls are the same way that we all are. We learn by observation. We learn by living it out and seeing it. They just got to see life in our home. I mean, there was just a lot of flourishing.

Sarah: And so even if I didn’t realize it in the moment, it was really shaping perspective for me to get to see how, no matter how old you are, you still have to be poured into.

Annie: I think Revive Our Hearts has been important to my family because it’s brought us together. It’s just something we can all talk about. We all have our memories of my mom from a young age listening.

Sarah: If my mom had not connected with Revive Our Hearts, I don’t know if I would have known how to have an intimate relationship with the Lord. My mom has pointed me and shown me what it looks like to cultivate that relationship with the Lord. So, I don’t know where I would be. I don’t know if I would even know how to study my Bible at this stage.

Dannah: In 2016, Becky, Sarah Peyton, and Annie all attended the True Woman ’16 conference hosted by Revive Our Hearts.

Sarah: I remember coming to the 2016 conference in the fall and hearing teaching and. I heard it all the time on the phone or in the car on the way to school or whenever it was. But I remember hearing it in person for the first time. It affected me differently. I just remember hearing it and getting to experience it.

Dannah: While at True Woman ’16, Sarah Peyton and Annie both heard an invitation to join the Revive Partners, and God put it on their hearts to get involved.

Annie: Giving was something that was always talked about and encouraged in our home—whether it was giving our time or our money. It was just always something that we did. So seeing my mom give and be a Monthly Partner to this ministry, and seeing how much she was poured into and how much she was actually participating by giving, it was a unique ministry that I got to see, I wanted to do the same.

Being an eighteen-year-old, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to do it, but as my mom always says, “When you give, the Lord will bless you in return.” So I believed that to be true, and I wanted to see it to be true. I just decided at the end of that conference to become a Monthly Partner, and I’ve been one ever since.

Sarah: I became a Monthly Partner at that conference. I was a sophomore in college. And I’m, like, “I don’t know really know how I’m going to do this, but I just know I get to do it because I have been blessed with some income, and now I get to be generous with what I have been given.

Dannah: So, Becky, Luke, Meagan, Sarah Peyton, Annie and her husband Wyatt are all Revive Partners. There’s also one other person in the family to join the team.

When we last heard about Will, he was waiting to grow big enough for heart surgery.

Becky: So we tried when he turned four. We tried to do it non-invasively, and it failed. Then we tried again, non-invasively. It failed. So, it required open-heart surgery. We did that when he was about four-and-a-half years old, and that was a breakthrough day.

What started to happen was the color of Will’s life started to really come about. And so, instead of just the necessity of surviving, we started to see life could be flourishing.

After he had his heart surgery, God started to just build on his life things that he was able to do. The doors started to open up. Opportunities were coming open for him. He started to say, “I want to have my dream job. I want to work at Park Cities Presbyterian Church.”

Dannah: Sarah Peyton works at the church as well and gets to see her brother in action.

Sarah: So, Will is a facilities man. It’s fun to have him be a part of the church and see him around. I’d run into him at times, and he’ll throw a chair on his back and act kind of cool. He’ll act like he’s running the show.

I remember one time I was sitting in a whole staff meeting, and one of the bosses over Will came up to me and said, “Will has changed my perspective of life. It’s changed the way I see my job. It’s changed the way I take the trash out. It’s changed the way I set up chairs. It’s changed all those things just because of the joy that Will has and how grateful he is to do them. He says all the time, ‘I love my job!’ It changes the way that I see the mundane things in life.”

So, he’s our biggest encourager and just bring so much joy to our family.

Dannah: Along with working in facilities at the church, Will began giving to others in all kinds of ways. God put several passions on Will’s heart.

Becky: “I want to be our pastor’s prayer person, and I want to be on mission staff with Young Life Capernaum, which is a special needs part of Young Life.” And today, we’re seeing all of those. I mean, every one of those has come about.

“And I want to be a Monthly Partner with Revive Our Hearts.”

Nancy: If you’ve been blessed by the Revive Our Hearts daily program, or any of the other podcasts produced by the ministry, or if you’ve benefited from some of our books and resources, or conferences, or online articles and videos, you can thank our whole team of Revive Partners . . . including Will Ellerman (who, by the way has become a precious friend of Robert’s and mine!).

And also, the rest of Will’s family have become Revive Partners: Rebecca, Luke, Meagan, Sarah Peyton, and Annie and Wyatt D’Spain. This family and their hearts for this ministry have been such a deep encouragement to me and to countless others around the world who’ve been blessed because of their partnership with us.

Now, as you’ve listened to this family’s story today, I wonder if the Lord may be calling you to join them and become a Revive Partner. They said “yes” to the Lord when it seemed like they didn’t have a lot to give, but they had a heart to serve and to share.

Perhaps today the Lord is calling you to do the same. To get more details, including all the goodies we have for you in the Revive Partner Welcome Pack, be sure and visit

That’s also where you can see the video our team made with Will and his family. It’s precious. You can see him in action working with all his heart at the church and sharing the joy of the Lord with others. 

To see the video, visit and look for the transcript of today’s program, or you can subscribe to the Revive Our Hearts’ channel on YouTube. 

Dannah: On Monday, we’ll hear a message Nancy gave while a lot of people were going through stress and difficulty. She helped them to lean on their Good Shepherd to find rest, and she’ll help you do the same. Join Nancy Monday, here on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is calling you to greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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