Something big happened last Sunday. Something so big that I literally could not wrap my mind around its enormity until the moment it happened.
My three beautiful children were baptized into God’s family in front of God and everybody last Sunday. July 14 will forever be the day they became part of Something Big.
It started out like any other day. Coaxing them out of bed wasn’t easy, but as soon as I mentioned the EXTRA FRILLY dresses, the girls threw back the covers and were dressed in about 3 seconds flat. They got a donut treat for breakfast.
Bryce’s shorts were none too big. Perhaps I should have tried them on in advance of Sunday morning.
The house came alive, one by one, all of us and our houseguests, and suddenly it was time to go to church.
The whole baptismal party assembled in the church lobby and there was a lot of hugging and nervous excitement. More excitement than one would think possible at 8 am on a Sunday.
Though we had arrived 15 minutes early for church, we still managed to sit down late. In the front row. *sigh* I don’t know how these things happen.
We had been instructed to assemble on the lower part of the alter in the 5th verse of the 1st hymn. So we did. Nothing about our big family is neat, smooth, or tidy, but we made it up the alter steps without anyone tripping. And everyone remembered their 10-page packet that contained every word of the entire ceremony. By the looks of the packet, we were going to be up there awhile, but it went surprisingly quick. Which is good because I was a tissue-less, blubbering mess by page 3.
Our kids had 6 godparents present to speak on their behalf. Two uncles, one aunt, and three friends. All of upstanding and outstanding character.
I couldn’t stop smiling. I smiled at anyone who would make eye contact with me. After 10 years of avoiding organized religion, then reconciling with those feelings, then myself joining the church again, the baptism of my children was the final step in this process of “coming home.” Ten long years later, I was coming home. And bringing everyone with me. It felt sooooo good. Hence, all the smiling. And crying.
After quite a bit of call and answer, it was time to apply the water to the children. They went oldest to youngest.
Hillary stepped up on the stool right there next to the baptismal font, leaned over and as the first handful of water went over her head, the tears started. Try as I may, there was no stopping the train wreck in my tear ducts. In that moment, she became God’s child forever and it was too much for my little mind to understand, so I decided to cry instead.
Maris was next. I helped Hillary down and helped Maris up onto the stool. She leaned over and received her baptism over her curly hair, just like we had practiced the night before. A whole new wave of tears came over me and I could hear the sniffles from the congregation. Pastor’s hands are huge, and Maris got very wet. She could have used a larger towel.
I helped Maris down off the stool and smiled at my two girls looking to me for approval. Both were smiling and proud. They knew this was big.
My sweet little Bryce was the last to be baptized. Daddy held him over the bowl, and after trying to get into the water, he, too, was baptized into God’s family. What a moment. What a huge, monumental, indescribable moment. And we had shared it with so many people that we love so much.
I needed a tissue. I never knew one could cry and smile and feel SO MUCH all at the same time. I’ve never felt anything quite like it.
I was relieved when it was over. I figured it meant the end of something we had been anticipating and preparing for for what seemed like months. But those huge emotions and the enormity of it all would hang with me all day long and even now I’m still riding around on some sort of baptismal high that could both elate me and reduce me to tears all in the same breath. In kid terms, God makes us feel funny sometimes.
The day continued with the remainder of the service, a handful of pictures, then returning home all together as part of God’s Family. Wow.
We had spent a stressful week preparing for a large party at our house and it was worth every second. People came from far and wide to celebrate with us. There were kids everywhere and plates piled high with BBQ’s and brownies. There was so much talking and eating and laughing and hugging. You could look around at any moment and say, “This is life. This is what life is all about.”
I fed my kids lunch, but then didn’t see them again the rest of the day. There were cousins and friends and uncles to play with. The Lord must have looked favorably on our celebration because I only heard 2 kids cry all day long. That’s near a miracle in itself.
The weather was beautiful. Mid-70s. Overcast so we wouldn’t sunburn. One little spit of rain to make sure we were all still paying attention.
I made my way around, trying to talk to those I see least most. I wished the party could go on for a few more days to adequately converse with everyone.
But it had to end. One by one, folks said their goodbyes and made their way down the road. I will forever cherish every single person who spent the day with us. I could never adequately thank everyone, though I sure tried. I hugged everyone as tight as I could, extending the thank yous through my arms.
The last few people who remained helped us clean up. It took us a week to put it together and only about an hour to take it apart. Then they all took their leave, too, and we were left, just the five of us. And life went on in much the same way as before. Supper, bath, teeth, milk, stories and sleep.
And my three angels on earth, my three hearts outside my body, went to sleep for the first time in their lives as God’s children. And with that same knowledge, I cried myself to sleep, the weight of the entire world no longer sitting on my shoulders.