It was a crazy resurrection weekend... (Still can't stomach the word 'easter'... what does that word even mean to me as a Christ-follower?)
Neil's mom & dad were visiting, but God had also provided other opportunities to bless and be blessed; like loving a sweet 6 year old girl for a few days, singing at a funeral - one that felt like a true Homecoming - leading worship at two poignant Good Friday services, welcoming some company who we couldn't wait to see on Friday afternoon, and preparing a party to celebrate our daughters friend's baptism on Sunday. We had a lot going on, and Neil only arrived home on Thursday at midnight - so by the time Sunday rolled around, my whole body was pretty swollen.
i shrugged at my puffy face in the mirror that morning, figuring nobody would see me in the back row of our church anyway, and got myself ready to go. We were attending the second service because that's when our little sparkplug friend was getting baptized. We couldn't miss it. The sanctuary was packed - and it felt like it was about 800 degrees - and so i thought, "ahh, no one will notice if i pull off my sweater" - even though i had put it on that morning purposefully, to smooth out a few of the puffy pregnancy lumps that had appeared over the past few busy days...
A couple of songs in, i noticed our little friend waving to me to come up closer so i wouldn't miss anything - and so i slipped from my seat and tried to unobtrusively make my way to the front row where the fresh faced teenagers were sitting.
The first baptism was a friend and fellow expectant mama... i wept as she told of God preparing a way for the spiritual nurturing of her entire family and the gentle leading of a shepherd who is so keenly aware of those who are with young.
And then i watched from the front row as our little 16 year old hero, courageously stood in front of an absolutely packed sanctuary. She stood in front of her friends and her family who had come especially for this occasion - in that hot room with wiggly little ones whose Sunday School teachers had brought them down and who were hooting excitedly, to see one of their teachers taking this incredible step of obedience in baptism. She read her testimony - reminding us all how God calls us, redeems us and oh, so gently leads us to obedience. i couldn't help but cry when she stepped into that tank - and she acknowledged her Saviour - in front of a cheering crowd of believers.
Then the pastor spoke. His short message pointed unapologetically to our Rescuer - and spoke tender truth. And then... he gave opportunity - if there were anyone in the room who would like to be baptized... that they could come forward and be baptized that very morning...
By this time i had snuck to the back to sit with my husband and family again - and that's when i noticed our 14 year old daughter fairly skipping down the aisle towards us.
"i'm getting baptized, daddy..." She said to Neil. He wrapped her in his big arms - and then let her go run to tell the pastor that she was ready.
i tried not to cry. i did. But it was useless. (Truth be told, Neil wasn't all that successful either...) i was officially a puffy faced mess...
My sister's church has a tradition to publicly affirm the person who makes the decision to be baptized. It meant a lot to me to be able to affirm Cai when she got baptized 2 years ago - and i knew i wanted to do the same for my Sloanie... and so as she shared her heart, self-conscious beached whale that i was, i climbed the stairs to stand beside my little girl - to support her and affirm her decision to declare her love of God. She told everyone how she had wanted to be baptized before - but each time, had shushed the 'still small voice' - with a promise of, 'next time'... She had decided that the time was now - and the procrastination would end with this moment of obedience in front of her friends and family.
And then my sweet daughter climbed into that tank... and a pastor who cares so deeply for her, baptized her in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He prayed a blessing over my dripping girl - and she emerged, radiant from the water.