Monday, November 10, 2014

Amelia's Baptism

Amelia turned 8 on September 5th.

She looked forward to her eighth birthday for many, many months. She recognized the importance of number eight- it was the year she would be baptized.

Amelia has a very tender spirit. She has loved the gospel from a very young age. From the time she learned how to pray she has been thoughtful in the things she says. She has faith that God will answer her prayers and she asks Heavenly Father to help her often. She almost always expresses gratitude for her life and the beautiful earth we live on. She is always eager to report on what she's learned in Primary and she's the one who tries to keep us on track with Family Home Evening. She's the one who always reminds me when we miss family scripture study or forget family prayer. Now, don't get me wrong. Like any kid, she whines and sasses and fights with her siblings. But when the moments of passion pass, she feels sorrow and wants to be a better person.

We have to be careful when disciplining her that she understands the difference between making a bad choice and being a bad person. She worried for a long time that she wasn't ready to be baptized. Often when she messed up she would cry and say that she shouldn't get baptized. I began to worry about her, but as her birthday approached she began to internalize what we had been telling her, that God does not expect us to be perfect before or after we are baptized, He just wants us to commit to be His disciple and spend our life trying our best to follow His commandments and repenting when we fail.

It's like a switch was flipped inside Amelia as soon as she turned eight. She felt ready. She declared herself ready. Clearly, God knew what He was doing when He assigned the age of accountability. He knew how a child's mind develops and when they are capable of understanding choices and commitment sufficiently to began their journey as a disciple.

Amelia began to press us for a baptism date. But with Dan's work schedule, or lack thereof, it was hard to commit to a date because we never knew if he was going to get called out. Here in Cokeville you can select the date of your choice for a baptism provided the font is available and the Ward Mission Leader and a member of the bishopric can attend. You don't have to wait until the first weekend of the month following your birthday like in many places. Lily was baptized three days after she turned eight so I felt the pressure to have Amelia's baptism very soon after her birthday. Amelia really wanted her oldest cousin Rachel, who recently returned from a mission, to speak at her baptism and she wanted to be sure her Grammie could come. There were several schedules to coordinate.

And I was really hoping to have the house finished enough to move into before Amelia was baptized. I knew we would probably have family stay for the weekend whenever Amelia was baptized and I wanted to show off all our hard work. But as the weeks slipped by, it became clear that we had too much work to do. If we waited until the house was finished it could be months. So I gave up on postponing the baptism for the house. It was a shallow reason, anyway.  I talked to my Dad on the phone in early October and he told me, "You need to get that girl baptized. You never know what will happen." That gave me the jolt I needed. I knew my daughter was ready and eager and I was holding her back.

Amelia was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 18, 2014. We tried our best to guess when Dan would be home and the most family could attend. We set the date just 6 days before the baptism was scheduled and crossed our fingers. Dan ended up getting called into work two days later than expected so he was still working on the day of the baptism. But he worked the night before, slept a few hours in the morning, drove the 2 1/2 hours home from the rig, baptized Amelia, and headed back to Pinedale to work another night tower. Now, that's dedication!

Amelia wore the same dress that Lily wore at her baptism.

Sniff. Look at that cute little arm baby.

Amelia was actually baptized in this awesome, stylish jumpsuit.

I always regretted not getting a "portrait" of Lily on her baptism day so I was sure to take a few of Amelia in the pretty window light in the foyer of the church. The above picture is my favorite but Amelia likes this one:

She has a flair for the dramatic.

I also like this one, our smiley girl:

For Amelia's birthday Grammie gave her a special baptism book that has places for photos and journaling about the your baptism day. Lily received the same book but we never filled it out (I must have been busy with two toddlers or something!) so I wanted to be sure we did Amelia's. We worked on it last Sunday and one of the things Amelia wrote that she really liked about her baptism was her fancy French braid done by her Aunt Lora.

It's the little things that count! I've never learned to French braid so my girls love it when we're with Aunt Lora and they can get cool hairdo's.

Another thing that Amelia liked about her baptism was this special towel given to her by our friends Crystal and Barry.

Crystal has an embroidery machine and made this towel with Amelia's favorite color. Amelia's face lit up when Crystal gave her the towel- she couldn't believe someone had made something so special and personalized just for her. It came with this poem:

It was a beautiful symbol of Amelia's cleanliness and she loved getting that towel.

Before the baptism I asked the Bishop about taking pictures because the cousins were going to sing, and he told me as long as I didn't take pictures during the actual ordinances it was fine because we weren't in the chapel. So I sure did snap these two shots right before Amelia was baptized.

I'm so glad I did! I love seeing the sweet way Dan greeted her as she entered the water and the way she looked out at all her family and friends that came to see her be baptized. I wish I had taken a picture right after she was baptized with her Dad hugging her, but I had set the camera down and was busy getting the towel ready. I'll have to remember that in my internal memory bank (and I'll be sure to take that shot when Mack is baptized.)

Amelia was so happy (and shivering!) as she came out of the baptismal font. She just smiled and said, "I can't believe I'm baptized!" She'd had a nosebleed earlier in the afternoon and as she came out of the font her nose started to bleed a little bit. You can see a little on the towel by her name. She was worried about it but I assured her that bleach would take it right out.

The two talks were given by Amelia's Uncle Don and cousin Dani. Don made a great analogy about baptism and the sacrament. He said he remembered when he was a kid his mom always nagging him to take a bath. He always wondered, "What's the point? I'm just going to get dirty again tomorrow." The kids thought that was funny and several of them were nodding their heads in agreement. Then he explained that when you are baptized you are washed clean, but it doesn't take long before you say something mean or disobey your parents and you've gotten dirty again. That is why we have the sacrament. Taking the sacrament is like being baptized all over again, or taking a bath. Every week we renew our covenants and become clean again and commit to try to do better.

Dani spoke about the gift of the Holy Ghost. She gave a great object lesson using a plastic water bottle. Dani asked Amelia to try to squeeze the bottle. Not much happened. She explained that Amelia was the bottle and the Holy Ghost was the water. When she is filled with the Holy Ghost, Satan cannot bend and break her. Then Dani poured the water out and asked Amelia to try to crush the bottle. She smashed it like a pancake. Without the gift of the Holy Ghost constantly with her through worthiness, it will be much easier for Satan to tempt Amelia and all of us. The Holy Ghost is a protection to us and He motivates us to do good.

Amelia's favorite Primary song is I Love to See the Temple and she asked her cousins to sing it with her.

Dan gave Amelia a beautiful, thoughtful blessing when he conferred the gift of the Holy Ghost. He told her that like learning to read or play the piano, learning to recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost and act upon it takes practice. He encouraged her and promised her she would be an instrument in God's hand in bringing others to Christ.

Our friend Barry was part of the circle of priesthood holders that blessed Amelia. He shared this with me: "Being unable to position myself to watch Vonda who interpreted the blessing done by Dan (Barry is deaf), I just stood there and watched your beautiful little daughter. I recalled how special she was and how she'd always come up to me and sign "Hi Barry". It always touched me every time she did, because of the small hands she would use to communicate with me." Barry described feeling a distinct physical sensation during the blessing. "The spirit was so strong and evident in my body. It told me how special Amelia was to our Lord... Amelia is a special young lady. She is a gifted one. The Lord has entrusted her with an important responsibility and duty in this life. I'm honored to know her."

After the baptismal service we were all in a hurry to get back to the house so Lora could take our family picture before Dan headed back to the rig, so I didn't get a picture of Amelia with Barry and Crystal. But here is one I took last year.

A few other pictures from baptism day:

Mack was pretty excited to write his own name in Amelia's baptism book.

(I'm really not that tall, I was just wearing big chunky heels. Lily is in reality 3 inches taller than me.)

Mack was long gone with his cousins after the group photo, so there are none of all three siblings.

After having our family picture taken, we had a cookout in our new backyard. Amelia opened a couple of gifts- a CTR ring from Grammie and her own set of engraved scriptures. Amelia told me a few days after her baptism, "Whenever I look at my CTR ring from Grammie, it makes me think of the Holy Ghost".

Meanwhile, Patch took great pleasure in playing with Lily's braid.

Mmm... Brats. As in, gourmet hot dogs. Not sassy children.

It was a wonderful day with family. Amelia is such a blessing to our family and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father sent her to us!

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