“Because Dad died, God might want me to really love Mama so you’re not alone.” These were the words straight out of my little girl, Ellie’s, mouth a few nights ago. I’m consistently in awe of her massively compassionate heart. It blows me away that at 4 years old, she thinks these deep thoughts. Then again, I’ve secretly always prayed that what she’s already gone through in life would help shape her character to be full of compassion for herself and for others.
I can remember a few weeks after my late husband, Andrew, passed away, Ellie and I went to visit my Nanny, who was my only living grandparent at the time. She was in a nursing home and, as Andrew had been, she was about to be put on hospice. Over the past seven years, my Nanny had been living with the effects of a stroke and had never been quite the same. She had great long-term memory, but the short-term she had a hard time remembering. She attended Andrew’s and my wedding, but after the stroke she never remembered it, and I’ll never forget the look on her face when she met Ellie for the first time. She was convinced I had this baby out of wedlock and was mortified.
Nanny was also convinced Ellie was a boy and, no matter how girly I tried to dress Ellie, she would tell me Ellie was the cutest little boy she’d ever seen. We would laugh it off. Ellie didn’t know Nanny very well, but the day we visited her in the nursing home, Ellie was like a magnet to her. It didn’t matter that Nanny was frail and looked very sick, Ellie crawled up in the hospital bed with her and wrapped her arms around her.
It was that moment when I realized Ellie had a gift for going to the uncomfortable places and loving those whom others might be scared of. She was able to do this because of her experience with helping to take care of her daddy when he was weak and sick. There I was, a worried mother, thinking this experience of losing her dad would scar her for life, when instead, I started seeing things from a higher perspective. I realized maybe this experience was one of Ellie’s great life lessons along her journey and what I thought might destroy her is making her strong, capable, nurturing, and impactful.
This past weekend, at Ellie’s classmate’s birthday party, I got into a conversation with a mother from Ellie’s class. This mom asked me who my daughter was and I told her it was Ellie. She said:
“My daughter comes home talking about your daughter almost daily. When I had a parent-teacher conference recently, I asked the teacher who ‘Ellie’ was, because my daughter brought her up so much. The teacher told me, ‘Oh, Ellie is so kind, compassionate, and helpful. She is always helping your daughter with her work or backpack or whatever she needs.’ You don’t know how much it means to me that your daughter sees my daughter’s needs and helps her.”
My heart was full from that conversation. God is doing a beautiful work in Ellie’s heart and in her life, and I must trust Him.
Since I had a speaking event coming up, I was practicing my speech in front of my parents on a drive back from a family dinner this past Monday evening, and Ellie listened to every word I said as I talked about her dad and about the two of them creating The Ellie Project together. She fell asleep after I gave the speech and my dad said, “Bailey, it was so good for Ellie to hear you say those things. I was watching her in the mirror and she really took in every word you said.”
I thought to myself, I hope she’s proud of me. Ellie also told me that evening she wanted to start coming with me to speak and she wanted to help me share Daddy’s book!
I want to leave you with this thought— it’s one I share in my speeches:
Our challenges give us a higher perspective on life and on what is really important. Those lessons become gifts to guide us throughout the rest of our journey, becoming our wake-up call to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life… creating our greatest legacy!
Loved spending time with you today! Blessings.
PS – If you want Ellie and me to come speak and sign some Ellie Project books, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. My speech is powerful, inspirational, and about living your legacy today! It’s good for men and women, corporate groups, mom’s groups, Bible Study groups, community groups, etc. Big or small, group size is of no importance. We are excited to come share this powerful message with you!
PPS – Looking to share the gift of learning the ABCs, as well as build lifetime character lessons with a special child in your life? To get your copy of The Ellie Project or The Ellie Project Stationery Set, click here!