My sweet Ella began another year of preschool yesterday. I fully admit it was nothing like it was last year, dropping her off and seeing her run into the classroom with all of her friends, completely familiar with the classroom and her teachers. It was old hat for her. Me too. We were both ready for it. Ella missed her friends and I think she probably missed the structure and challenge of school. The last two months have been great fun, but we’ve taken them as complete vacation. We both do better with structure.
Monday night we swung into Target to pick out her indoor shoes – shoes she keeps at school all year, putting them on each morning when arriving at school and leaving them behind at the end of the day. Yes, it was Monday night, the night before school, because why would I do our shopping before that? Keeping us on our toes here, people. Of course, the selected shoes happened to be pink with plenty of sparkles. I thought ballet flats would be comfy for classroom use, so I let her go with them. She was thrilled to have her photo taken in her new kicks before heading off for her first day.
Last night I couldn’t resist going through photos from the first day of school a year ago. She was so little! My heart squeezes at the thought of all that she has experienced in the last year and the ways she has grown. An entire year of school, learning to be an incredible big sister, flying halfway around the world where I saw her bloom among new friends who may or may not have spoken her same language. She has become a compassionate, expressive four-year-old who goes out of her way to include others when playing and will do nearly anything to make a person smile. God is doing some amazing things in Ella. I am filled with joy and awe watching her grow into the little lady He has created her to be.
Another very special experience Ella had was one month ago today. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. Pete was at work, Sam was napping. Ella came upstairs to find me picking up a few things in her room. She came in and said, “Mama, I want to have Jesus in my heart.” I was caught by surprise at her request, as I didn’t know what sparked it. I would have typically thought she had talked about it at church over the weekend, but I was her fill-in teacher and knew that we hadn’t specifically talked about it. The two of us sat down on the stairs together and talked about what it means to have Jesus in her heart. When I asked if she wanted to pray and ask Him to be in her life forever, she enthusiastically said yes and prayed all on her own. What a moment that was.
As a mama doing my best to follow after Jesus and show my family the example of Jesus’ love and compassion, I would love for my own littles to find that same path of joy and unconditional love. I had been wondering for the last few years what it would look like when and if Ella made the decision to ask Jesus in her own life. I knew I didn’t want it to be something that I initiated, since I believe the Holy Spirit does that work in a person’s heart. I wanted it to be completely on her own. And it was. She really does have a heart full of love and compassion, and I’m excited to see how it is further expressed in the years ahead.
This year, Miss Ella also go to play tennis! Last year when we would drive or walk past the courts just a few blocks from our house, she would say that when she was four, she could take lessons. I’m not sure where the whole “when I’m four” thing came from, but it sounded reasonable, so we went with it. For two weeks in August, we walked to the courts for a daily half-hour lesson. She was in love. Pete & I were both captains or our high school tennis teams, so it’s pretty excited to see her so thrilled to play. I think we’ll be doing it again next summer!