The Ella LOVE Experiment

On February 1, 2011, I received an anonymous note informing me that for that whole month, I was going to be showered with love.

Just because.

True enough, for the whole month of February, I would walk out to my back patio each morning and discover a carefully wrapped gift waiting for me.

Imagine!  A whole month!

Even as I write this, I look around and see some of those gifts displayed about the farmhouse.  We didn’t bring many personal items here from Austin, but I could never have left behind the stained-glass cross that hangs in the kitchen window, or the love-birds that perch on the sill.  The same goes for the copper bowl that holds my far-too-large assortment of bangles from around the world, or the tiny tin crown that sits quietly on the library shelf.

This friend knew me well.  My favorite color, my sensibilities, and the yearnings of my heart were all accounted for in each daily treasure.  She chose gifts I didn’t know would become some of my favorite personal possessions, not for their value, but for their worth.

While I felt loved in the most extravagant way, as the month progressed I began to feel completely undeserving.  I could only receive.  It felt weird.  There could be no thanks or reciprocity.  Who would ever go to such lengths, for such a long time, to do this for me?  Who could be so singularly attentive to me?

It was humbling, honestly, to be the one loved so particularly.

My extraordinary friend is with Jesus today.  After that February, she had only five more months on earth, much of it fraught with the waves of suffering that cancer brings on too many young wives and mothers.

The month of February will never be the same for me, because Ella has changed all that.

These last few days of January, I am asking myself this question as I remember her. What would it look like to devote a whole month to the outward expressions of love to another person?

How can I pay Ella’s gift forward to my own loved one(s) during the month of February?  I’m going to call it the “Ella LOVE Experiment”.  Maybe you would like to join me in your own creative fashion?  There are only a few questions to ask yourself.

  1. Can I take this month to really pay attention to someone else?
  2. Will I be purposeful enough every day for a whole month to give real treasures  of true worth to this loved one?
  3. Will I take the time and care to consider what would be love to that person?
  4. What do they cherish?
  5. What delights them?
  6. What makes them smile?
  7. Can I do it without thanks or recognition or spending lots of money?

Might I caution you.  None of Ella’s gifts were extravagant, but all were precious, thoughtful.  A spending spree will most certainly cheapen the endeavor.

After discovering, on February 28, that it was Ella who was my February love fairy-friend, I couldn’t help but be astonished at how happy and alive she appeared as she talked about it all.  Remember, Ella was sick.  She had battles on every front.  But far from being a burden, the month of focused giving to another had actually enlivened her; the planning and thinking, the scheming and tip-toed late-night deliveries, she had loved it all.

It was only then that I stopped feeling a measure of guilt.

I was both witness and recipient to the truth that it is only what we do for others that remains and grows.

Ella’s love not only remains, but is growing beyond her own gates.  Spurred on and inspired by her tangible actions towards me, I am eager to pass on her gift to those I love.

Ella’s love is growing in her absence by how she loved when she was present.

My preparations have already begun for February 2012.  I have been the recipient of unmerited love from a friend.  Now I get to be, even better, the gift giver!

I love to think about what Ella is doing now.  It could be a million things, but you can be sure she is using her time and talents well at the moment.  Imagine all the treasures and gifts (beautifully wrapped, I am sure!) that await her friends and loved ones as she has all this time in heaven to prepare!

Grace, and delight, as you search for ways to show love to those in your life this month.


12 responses to The Ella LOVE Experiment

  1. Brooke H. says:

    Oh, my! I’ve got so much to think about now! And, I feel, it’s all good stuff. I’m in. Thanks for this, Kim!

  2. T. McC says:

    Oh precious Ella, I open my drawer in the am and see things like a lip gloss that she brought to me “just because I was in the grocery store and this is a great color for you!” What love and grace! Sign me up!

  3. christina f says:

    I’d love to join you….question is….who of my sweet friends should be the recipient???

  4. Emily Patterson says:

    I love this. Our community group was talking about Colossians 1 last night, in particular 1:3, and about hope: We always thank God, the father of Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
    How does our hope laid up for us in heaven, our guaranteed future with Jesus, free us to love others selflessly and wholeheartedly? What a great example of this. I’m thinking about how I can do the Ella Love Experiment!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    How about those chocolate covered strawberries that she hand delivers on Valentine’s Day?!

  6. Brooke H. says:

    Will keep you posted! I may have to call you to discuss a bit…

  7. Debbie Wenger says:

    Thanks for the challenge! God impressed someone on me to do this for, but I felt that I don’t really know her well enough to get things that would be meaningful to her. But the conviction just grew stronger. She goes to our church, has 3 children, and is fighting her third occurrence of cancer. I went to the the flea market near our home, praying that God would show me things to get for her, and I came home with my bag OVERFLOWING with “goodies”. 🙂 With the help of her son, I’m giving her a gift every other day, and am sending cards & email notes every day. (I set up a new email account in the name of “Charity Agape”.)

    I am having SO MUCH FUN!!!! Thanks for this great challenge.


  8. Given Breath says:

    This makes me so happy! I can just imagine the delight you are bringing this dear soul! I love that the LORD helped you pick out the goodies:) That is awesome. Thanks for the note and have fun!

  9. workforcookies says:

    It’s September and I just now saw a re-post of this on FB. I didn’t see it when it was first posted. I remember Ella coming over to my house (which was behind yours at the time) to wrap up the gifts she’d found for you then stealthily deliver them. She would often call me when she found something she thought would bring you a smile. She was so excited talking about how it would make you smile. So happy. Today, a year from the day she died, I’ve been making her banana bread and delivering it my friends and neighbors. It’s just what I felt like doing when I woke this morning and I feel certain it was a nudge from Ella. She inspired giving—but as you pointed out, not for extravagance. It was for Love. I think I will try your Ella Love experiment in September because any month is a good month for Love!
    Love to you!

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