You might ONLY want to read this if you love my Ellie. I haven’t shared this except with only a couple of close friends. I think in the back of my mind, I was worried you might think less of ME. Pride can be so hard. Gosh, I struggle with it. Maybe you do too.
When Ellie was a little girl, I knew I wanted to sign her up for ballet classes. My main reason was in hopes that she would develop a little more grace and coordination than I have currently. Which isn’t much..if you know me you’d agree.
Before we started ballet classes, at the suggestion of the Director, I took her to attend one of their year end ballets. I wanted to see if she was truly interested.
We sat in the balcony and she was on the edge of her seat the entire night. Her eyes were sparkling and she was a bundle of energy. At the end I asked her if SHE would like to do that. With lots of twirling and jumping she shouted, “YES!!! Can I do THAT!?!?!?”
Needless to say, she was signed up for ballet classes that fall. She then went on to develop a love for dance unlike anything I had experienced as her momma. She LOVES ballet. Eats it, breathes it, dreams about it. She has said from day one that she wanted to grow up to be a professional ballerina. Period. No back up plan, no other options. She wanted to dance as long as her body allowed and then to be a mom.
I was thrilled. Who wouldn’t want to see their daughter on the big stage doing something she loves? I secretly dreamed that maybe I’d get to see Ellie dance all over the world, watch her dance those iconic roles….I was willing to pour whatever we needed into helping her reach her goals.
After several years in ballet, her plans never wavered. All of this time we had been active in our local church. Ellie was there each time the doors were open. She just soaked in the knowledge of God’s word, all of the stories, all of the lessons. She could quote Scripture left and right. She made me so proud.
This was at an age that her young friends, started to develop their own personal relationships with the Lord. Many made professions of faith and were baptized.
I knew that Ellie would come to this same place one day too. Right?!?!?! We had taught her ALL the things. We had taken her to church. We had done everything “right”. We were just waiting on her. She knew all the answers. She could tell you what is takes to become a born again believer. But she hadn’t made that decision for herself.
My heart began to ache. Her brother Ethan made a public profession of faith, as did her younger sister, Ruby Kate.
Ellie wasn’t ready. It didn’t even seem to be on her radar. Anytime I brought it up, it was if she almost got angry that I asked. Even point blank questions about where she would spend eternity if she died that day were met with “Hell, I guess”. I saw no Holy Spirit conviction, no struggle in her life.
She is a WONDERFUL daughter. I mean wonderful. Hardly EVER gets in trouble. Seriously. She’s kind. Loving. A huge help. A servant’s heart. I adore her.
But my heart was broken. There were times I worried about the possibility of something happening to her before she came to know the Lord. What if? I couldn’t bear to think about it.
I put her on a plane to dance in Scotland several years ago and prayed feverishly for her safety and that God would bring her back to us.
I wanted her to know the Lord. Truly KNOW Him. I wanted her to recognize her need for a Savior. Not because we had pushed her. Not because we had grilled her and she had all the right answers to the typical “church” questions.
I began to realize that she was so consumed with all things ballet and that I had been as well. That maybe, just maybe, this was becoming an IDOL in her life and that she had her sights set on a future in ballet instead of what God might have planned for her.
I began to pray that God would stir her heart and turn her focus towards Him. That God would call her to Him and that ballet, while it could still be a creative outlet for her, would not be her life. That whatever God had planned for her…she would begin to SEE it.
I never asked God to take ballet away from her. Though I did secretly worry that my prayers might result in an injury that would take her out. I was terrified that my prayers would manifest in a way that would devastate her.
During this time we moved our family to a different church. Our number one reason was to be in a place that all of our children were accepted for who they were. We were also looking for a church with a children and youth ministry that shared our heart for reaching young people…all young people…not just the “good ones” that already attended church. We put together a list of churches we wanted to visit. We tried our best to explain to our children what this was going to entail…that we’d be visiting a different church every few weeks to see where God wanted us to grow and serve.
Our first Sunday led us to the church that was first on our list. We had felt God calling us to this church for several years. We had pushed those callings aside because of pride. Our old church needed us, right? Bryan served there as a deacon, I led our Awana ministry, we taught a Sunday school class. They needed us. We couldn’t just LEAVE.
But that very first Sunday…after stepping our feet into those buildings, I knew. I knew this was what God had been calling us to. I knew this was the place where we would see our children grow. This was a place where we could see the church come alongside us and where we could see all of our children thrive.
Ellie jumped into activities and trying to make friends. She is quite the introvert so I worried that it would be a hard transition for her. But she began to meet other youth and looked forward to attending on Sundays and Wednesdays. She became hungry to learn more in a way I had never seen from her.
Her middle school pastor was leading that ministry well and it was having an impact in her life. I could see it begin to unfold.
One night after church, she climbed into the van with tears in her eyes and told me that she had accepted the Lord as her Savior! What a gift! We were so thankful.
I began to see growth in Ellie’s walk with the Lord. She was spending time reading God’s word on her own. She was praying during our family prayer time. I could visibly see God working in her life. She was hungry to know Him more.
It was then that I began to see a change in ballet. Not in the work she was doing week to week. She was still loving it, still giving it her best effort. But her choices began to change. She chose church camp over a chance to go to a summer ballet intensive. That would have never happened a few years ago. She was most concerned with attending church versus her focus being solely on ballet.
Recently our church went on their yearly mission trip to Costa Rica. They came back and shared with our congregation about the work that they did there and how they saw God working.
During that service of sharing, Ellie turned to me and said “I want to go to Costa Rica”.
Days later we had a conversation while washing dishes together. I asked her what she thought her future looked like…if she still thought she wanted to be a professional ballerina. Without a moment’s hesitation, she answered “I think God is calling me to be a missionary”.
A missionary? Can we go back to dreaming of being a ballerina? #safety
God hears our prayers friends. He hears the prayers we cry out over our babies.
Is He calling Ellie to a life of full time missions? I have no idea.
She has many years ahead. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for her and how He is going to use her. Is there still a part of me that wishes maybe she would grow up to be a dancer with Ballet Magnificat and be able to tour the world sharing Jesus through her love of dance? Yep. I can be honest and admit that. But that’s not my call. God’s got her right in the palm of His hand.
Our church is planning next year’s trip to Costa Rica and sign ups are this coming Sunday. The initial deposit is due at that time and 40 slots are available.
Would you pray with us that we can make a way for this opportunity to be open for Ellie? I am researching some options this week to try and help her pull her deposit together so that she could claim a spot on Sunday.
I love the dancer that she has become. Watching her dance brings me to tears. Of course because I’m her momma and think she is a beautiful dancer.
But even more, I love watching her become a follower of Jesus. I love the change that I see in her.
She can do kingdom work right here in Jacksonville or across the world. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. But I am so thankful for the love of our Father and that I get a front row seat to watch Him work in her life.
God is so good friends.