Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Baptism Day

 photo EI3C2508_zpse4f76e7e.jpg

"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us." - Ephesians 5: 1-2

 photo EI3C2533_zps04a80c58.jpg

Eliza has been marking boxes on her calendar for several months now. Counting down days, reading with me in the mornings about baptism, and smiling unabashedly each time someone asks her about her big day.

Every young girl (or boy) that belongs to the Mormon church waits anxiously for their eighth birthday. It's a big milestone. Eight marks the year they can be baptized. A sacred ordinance that starts them on a path of discipleship. 

 photo EI3C2180_zps09658c74.jpg

The scriptures describe baptism as the gate through which we must enter in our journey towards eternal life with God; the first step.

It is similar to Catechism for Catholics in that children mindfully prepare, learn all they can about baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost (a separate ordinance that follows). They understand that this covenant or promise they make with God involves keeping his commandments, remembering Jesus, and serving Him the rest of their life.

It's a pretty big deal.

 photo EI3C3200_zps276ac52e.jpg

Our dear friend, Michelle, offered to take photos of Eliza. She texted me one spring morning, saying it would be the last good day for white blossoms in the apple orchard. So I pulled Eliza out of school, curled her hair, and off she went with Michelle.

Aren't the photos beautiful? So saturated with light.

I don't want to forget my Eliza at eight. It's such a darling age. She is still so innocent, so enamored with the magic of life. Yet she is full of knowing and hope for her future. She knows enough to laugh at my jokes, to see when I need help, to read from the Bible fairly easily, then slip downstairs to tuck her baby doll into a cradle and sing her a lullaby. 

She stands on that white picket fence of childhood. One foot in the world of decision and responsibility. The other still dangling in the sphere of imagination and unadulterated joy.

 photo EI3C2548_zps91b0de5a.jpg

This is one of my favorites. 

So Eliza.

 photo EI3C2397_zpse8d4cd3f.jpg

She wore a white dress, white shoes, and a white hair clip. While white is not required attire, we chose a white dress because baptism is about purity and newness. 

During baptism, all past mistakes are symbolically washed clean and we begin a new, more committed life, as followers of Christ.

 photo IMG_9347_zps24b649b7.jpg

Saturday morning dawned bright. Sunlight poured in through the eastern windows. I snipped roses from the garden the night before and arranged them in vases. A variety of petals for every table.

 photo IMG_9342_zps41b6fd50.jpg

They are so stunning right now. Especially the peppermint rose.

Then we left for the chapel to set up for the service.

I braided Eliza's hair because the ordinance takes place in a beautiful, tiled font and is done by full immersion. Eliza and Doug put on their white jumpsuits. Yes, not the most becoming of outfits but they aren't see-through when wet (!) and they're actually quite comfy.

 photo IMG_9299_zps8efcb441.jpg

Friends and family members began to fill the seats.

 photo IMG_9287_zpsc5153f88.jpg

Eliza drew this picture for the cover of the program. 

It's a picture of her smiling as she walks toward the temple - the next big step for Mormons after baptism. As part of the service, our family sang her favorite song. "I love to see the temple. I'm going there someday. To feel the holy spirit. To listen and to pray..."

 photo IMG_9294_zpseaf4e0cb.jpg

My parents were the speakers for the service. My mother spoke on Baptism and the growing membership of the LDS church around the world. My Dad spoke about the Holy Ghost and the blessing of having God's spirit to attend us, protect us, and instruct us throughout life. 

 photo IMG_9297_zpsb49f29e9.jpg

Then Doug performed the ordinance.

I stood at the side door of the font, where I could watch them both enter the water. Doug held her hand and said the baptismal prayer. He was emotional as he said the words. Then he immersed her in the water. She smiled at me after she came up out of the water and I met her at the top of the steps to give her a towel. 

We walked into the bathroom and I gave her a hug. Then she started jumping up and down. And she kept jumping. I laughed and said, "Okay... calm down." Then she said, “I can't help it. I just feel so happy!” 

Eliza's a girl with lots of energy – that’s her personality – but watching her, I thought, you cannot fabricate this feeling she is having; you cannot pretend that kind of happiness. It was filling her so completely she couldn’t contain it. It was authentic and real. And it came from God. A witness to me (and to her) that the choice she had made to be baptized was the right one.

 photo IMG_9304_zps196ee163.jpg

After the service we came back to our home for lunch. My sisters were a tremendous help, bringing and preparing food. Playing the piano at the service and saying the prayers.

 photo IMG_9303_zpsbf70bdeb.jpg

Thanks girls. I love you.

 photo IMG_9329_zps5c713f8f.jpg

We were blessed to have lots of family there. My aunt Leslie and uncle Roger.

 photo IMG_9318_zps147840d2.jpg

Doug's brother Mike and his family. Cute Brandon on the left was baptized the week before.

 photo IMG_9331_zps64d774e4.jpg

Our dear friends, the Schroepfers.

 photo IMG_9322_zps917a9d9b.jpg

And these lovely ladies who live in my neighborhood. All of whom, helped in some way. With food prep and managing details at the church building. I'm so grateful for them.

 photo IMG_9320_zps563a4322.jpg

Here are some of Eliza's darling friends who came.

Good thing Michelle took photos of Eliza in her dress a few weeks before, because I didn't get a single one of her in her dress that day. Minutes after we got home she had put on her play clothes and bolted for the swings. 

 photo IMG_9372_zps0915b493.jpg

I made Eliza this handkerchief doll, so she could remember the day. And so she can look forward to wearing white again, in the temple.

I've also made them for her friends. They are super easy.

When I was on my mission in Nauvoo, we would make handkerchief dolls for some of our investigators on their baptism day. Pioneer families often didn't have enough money to buy their girls a doll, so they made them out of handkerchiefs like this. 

I would guess a good number of hankie dolls were carried across the plains to the Salt Lake valley. Today, if you visit Historic Nauvoo, you can see a doll here and there in various restored homes, nestled into a cradle.

 photo IMG_9291_zpse309fd91.jpg

Eliza's baptism day was full of light. The joy of it is still hovering in our home.

That night I read this from CS Lewis' book, Mere Christianity.

“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. Just as a car was made to run on petrol… God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”

 photo EI3C3166_zps38a5006c.jpg

After reading those words, I realized Christ was the fuel Eliza's spirit was burning as she jumped up and down on the slick tile of the bathroom. There is no other fuel, no other way to receive real peace and happiness. Because those things do not last or abide outside of Him.

I love our sweet Eliza and I'm so grateful for her decision to be baptized.

Mormons believe strongly in a life of discipleship. A life of devoted service. But we do so, because we know it is where we will find the most happiness. And that is all I want for Eliza (and all my children). Happiness. Authentic and real.

If you'd like a tutorial on how to make a handkerchief doll, let me know in the comments. And while I know this post was churchy, it is never my intent to "preach" on my blog. But if you do have questions and would like to know more about the LDS church, feel free to visit mormon.org.

Love and blessings,


13 comments:

  1. GORGEOUS...in every way. i'd love to know about the handkerchief dolls!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I LOVE the pictures of Eliza. They are beyond beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a perfect day! And, Rebecca V. was in my ward in Boston. She's a dear friend. I wish she was still MY neighbor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rebecca and I have spoken about you before. I know she knew you from Boston. She is a wonderful neighbor! Love her! And she feels the same about you.

      Delete
  4. Gold star day! : ) The pictures are perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such a beautiful day and a beautiful girl! So glad we were able to be there. Love you all!

    ReplyDelete
  6. So fun! Such a great idea to do a photo shoot before the busy day is there. Love it and Eliza! Congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What beautiful photos, Cath.

    And I love that quote by C.S. Lewis. It is now one of my favorites. Love you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a beautiful post to commemorate such a wonderful day! I'd love to learn how to make the handkerchief dolls.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautiful Eliza! What a special day for her and I LOVE the pics. Please share the tutorial!

    ReplyDelete
  10. All, I'll post a tutorial on the handkerchief dolls later this month. Thanks for reading and sharing in Eliza's special day. xo

    ReplyDelete
  11. This was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing all of it. As a convert I like to see how families do these special occasions, I don't want to miss anything when it is our turn. (our daughter turns 8 in December.) Eliza's pictures are stunning. So special. And yes the tutorial will be much appreciated. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  12. These pictures are absolutely divine. Eliza is such a lovely girl. She looks so much like you! So happy for you and your sweet daughter. congratulations to her! I love your explanation of baptism. "She stands on the white picket fence of childhood." What a beautiful image. Wishing you happiness. xoxo

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails