Beautiful Ballerinas

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that…”

Ha! I’m wondering how many of you can actually finish this quote… I’m wondering how many of you even know what novel this is from. (Calling all Austen-addicts…)
And while I’m sure I could have a relatively intelligent (animated? amusing?) discussion/blog post on whether or not “a man in possession of a good fortune must really be in want of a wife,” that’s not the truth I’m referring to here… Move over Jane Austen. Hello Walt Disney! 
It’s a small world after all…
This story began one fateful day in November. The exact day I don’t remember. And, well, I don’t believe in Fate so I guess “fateful” is the wrong word too, but you all get the picture. Maybe “Providential” would be more appropriate. 
At any rate, I was in the back of Studio C watching a run-through of Snow (from PNB’s Nutcracker) and behold! In front of me was this beautiful blonde-haired, bright-eyed professional division student who absolutely blew me away with her saut de chat. But it wasn’t just that. I don’t know… there was just something about her (of course this something would become more than obvious later…) So, using her pointe shoes as an in/excuse, I sort of forced her “under my wing.” She graciously complied… 
And her name is Carlie Mills… a.k.a. Briar Rose (because she literally looks like that Sleeping Beauty Disney Princess). 
Fast forward to April, 2011. One day while walking around backstage during a rehearsal for A Midsummer Night’s Dream this little Miss Briar Rose came up to me. And with those big ol’ Bambi eyes  timidly tapped me on the shoulder and nervously blurted out, “Hey! Jessika! Sooooo… I have a question for you. Umm…. I was wondering if you could help me out with something.”
Half-laughing to myself because she seemed almost skittish in approaching me (I don’t think I’m that intimidating), I gave her my warmest smile and, trying to put her at ease, said “Absolutely. What’s up?”
Fully expecting her to ask me some question about, well, I don’t know… how to deal with ingrown toenails or corns, which false eyelashes I use (105 and 111’s if you’re wondering…), or maybe a question about the choreography, I was totally blown away by what followed.
You see Carlie and I have something else in common (other than both loving ballet and having a flair for the dramatic – you should have seen this girl as Shoe Lady #3 in Cinderella!). We both love Jesus. That’s the something I mentioned earlier… the same something, the same Light, which I hope shines from me too!
And this love, this Light shone even more brightly through Carlie when she shared with me a story from the pulpit that had inspired her. The previous Sunday the pastor at her church had spoke of a little girl he’d met in eastern Washington.
Her name is Ella Mae. She’s a vibrant, energetic 6-year-old little girl who loves Jesus and ballet too. Ella Mae has big beautiful eyes, the sweetest smile and Spina Bifida… a condition that among other serious medical complications has her in a little walker as she’s paralyzed from the waist down. But that doesn’t stop Ella Mae! She wants to be a ballerina just like Carlie and me- be it by God’s gracious, omnipotent and healing hand or when she’s finally at Home with Jesus in Heaven. In a conversation to her little brother Levi (overheard by her Dad) she said,

“Levi, do you know what will make heaven so wonderful?” “What?” he said. “Heaven will be wonderful because there won’t be any walkers, braces, wheelchairs, or Spina Bifida, which means I’ll finally get to run and play with you like I’ve always wanted to do,” —said in her excited voice, as only she can— “and I’ll be able to dance for Jesus too. He’ll love it. He’s amazing you know, and he really likes ballerinas. I can’t dance now because my legs don’t work, but he’ll fix them in heaven, and then I’m gonna dance my heart out. He can’t wait to see me dance.”

 “So I was wondering if you’d be able to help me get Ella Mae tickets to the ballet and maybe a backstage tour?” said Carlie after relating to me this story.
Forget “if.” “When”?!!!! 
This was the only question on my mind… Tonight? Tomorrow? Shoot… “Today” wouldn’t be soon enough. But the Lord knew…

June. June 11th at 1:15pm to be exact. This was the day I met Ella Mae. Clad in a beautiful pink tutu complete with magenta ballet flats and a glittering tiara too, she arrived in the strong arms of her escort… her very tall and very proud papa, followed by her mama & little brother. And I, dressed in my mismatched ugly orange peasant costume, took them backstage where Carlie met up with us so that Ella Mae could not only meet ballerinas but get the chance to dance on stage too. And boy does this girl have some flair!! She showed me her moves, striking her sweet little poses…  And right before Carlie took them to find their seats for the show, I gave her a couple gifts – a pair of my pointe shoes and a Giselle poster signed by most of the company.
But these gifts were so minimal compared with the gifts I received through this experience.
What a gift it was to not only meet Ella Mae and her amazing family, but to share her story with all the other dancers in the company. Testimonies are powerful – lives lived for Christ – and hers is one that I know the Lord is using in an incredible way to draw people to Himself, even ballerinas. Because as Ella Mae’s said, “He really likes ballerinas.” And I can’t agree more!

But also, what a blessing little Miss Carlie Mills has been to me. She’s shown me that a deep love for Jesus and His Kingdom isn’t something to just think, talk or blog about… it does! It’s active. It doesn’t just contemplate conviction, but it takes the tangible steps to serve others.
And what a gift it’s been to serve the Body… the bigger Body. Because even though Carlie and I don’t attend the same church, we are both a part of the Body of Christ. We both love Jesus and His Kingdom. And in the end that’s what it’s about. Loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself… building up the Body of Christ and furthering His Kingdom.

It’s a small world. Had it not been for Carlie I would never have met Ella Mae. But I have been blessed beyond measure by these two beautiful ballerinas. And I thank the Lord for making the world small and bringing them into my life.

There’s so much more to this story… I feel like I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg with this post. I’d encourage you to listenwatch, or read the sermon that inspired this whole experience along with this follow-up blog post to the sermon written by Ella Mae’s dad. And you can follow Ella Mae and her family’s adventures here.

But I’ll end this long blog post with some photos so you can see and hear that God is good! Enjoy!

PS… Corey Everett Smiley deserves a HUGE shout out… You are the best. Thank you for also being an integral part in orchestrating this Divine appointment!


3 thoughts on “Beautiful Ballerinas

  1. Dawn says:

    That was you! I go to Mars Hill church, and I remember Pastor Mark telling the story about this little girl. I was moved to tears and so grateful for this beautiful kindness shown to Ella Mae. I didn't know that it was you who was the kind ballerina though. God bless you Jessika.

  2. Christy says:

    What a sweet, adorable little girl! She must have been so thrilled to have that experience. What a blessing you and Carlie were to her.
    God is so wonderful to open doors like that and allow us to serve Him by helping others.
    Thanks for sharing your story!

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