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AT RIGHT: Stephanie Ellison, a photographer in Abilene, Texas, appreciates the people in her life who shined light during dark times in her childhood. AT FAR RIGHT: Stephanie and Danny Ellison love being parents and try to give their children, Abby, 11, Emma, 9, Molly, 3, and newborn Willow (born after this photo was taken), a stable atmosphere to grow up in.

Despite the bitterness of her childhood, though, Ellison also has seen sweet moments, too, because of good people who came into her life, including those at Buckner. At age 4, she was placed briefly in Buckner foster care – and safety. “We were living in the back of a truck, and my dad had just

gone to prison,” she recalled. “My mom just couldn’t handle it. She had gone to a food stamp office, and they told her about a program that Buckner had for helping parents get on their feet. She placed all four of us. I know that I went with a foster family.” The respite ended when she was reunited with her mom. Years of additional abuse continued, including death threats. Finally, after a violent encounter with her mother, Ellison, then 15, reached a turning – or perhaps breaking – point in her life when she heard God speak to her.

“I remember just laying there that night, wondering, ‘Why? Why am I here? Why do I deserve to live?’ I remember going into the bathroom later, after I had laid there, kind of self loathing, feeling very depressed,” she remembered. “And I walked into the bathroom and held a razor blade to my wrist. I almost decided to take my life.

“But there was just something in me that – that kept saying, ‘I’m not finished with you yet. You’re not finished. This isn’t it for you. Don’t give up,’” she said. “Honestly, I do believe it was God. I also believe it was just the voices of tons of people that spoke life into me over the years.”

Ellison went to bed that night, and the next day, she found

her mom and one of her friends in their house in a drug-induced stupor with needles in their arms and toes.

“I just looked at them, and I was disgusted,” Ellison said.

“Something clicked in me. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I just said, ‘I’m finished. I’m done.’” She made good on her promise; she walked away and never

returned home. At 16, she was emancipated from her family. “I slept on other people’s couches for a little while until I became an emancipated adult and could buy a little trailer and a car. I worked three jobs and went to high school.” Recently, while writing a book about her life, she’s reflected on all the different circumstances that have led her to this point in her life. Despite all the adversity, she could also identify the sweet moments.

“There were always certain people there to help me see that life matters and that there’s hope,” Ellison said. “It doesn’t matter if things are hard, you can overcome all circumstances. It all boils down to the people. I always looked for light and looked for people who were going to be positive and speak light into my life instead of death. And there were a lot of people. Buckner is one of them.”

That appreciation led Ellison, now a wife, mother of four, and a photographer in Abilene, Texas, to call Buckner to say thank you. “If you hadn’t provided a place for me to live, food and clothing, then there’s no telling where I would be,” she said. For many at Buckner, her call served as a reminder that the

difference they make may be short, but the positive implications can last a lifetime. “I realized I wanted to show gratitude by just calling and saying,

‘Thank you,’” she added. “There are several children you guys work with that I’m going to say thank you on behalf of all of them because you never know what life you’re saving. You never know.” n

30 Buckner Today • SUMMER 2015 ISSUE

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