My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, July 26, 2009

she did it!

I was worried that my niece Sarabeth would freeze up when it came time for her baptism today and I'd have to toss her in head first... even us bible thumpin' evangelicals frown on that sort of thing...

I shouldn't have worried.

I ended up leaving my camera at Jim and Angie's so I won't have pictures for you until tomorrow and I got some great pictures... but none of them can really capture how precious that moment was for me.

I should mention that I love being backstage. There is something magical about the excitement of the "behind the scenes" stuff. It's my favorite thing about theatre. I love the adrenaline rush of costume changes and pre-show nerves and making adjustments when things don't go as planned. Nothing beats live theatre and for me, nothing beats being backstage.

I also love to be needed. I need to be needed. I've been a mommy for 22 years. I've been a big sister for 34 years. I'm good in a crisis. I'm good at keeping my head when others lose theirs. I'm good at problem solving.

Today in worship service Angie was leading the music. Jim was doing the baptizing. There needed to be someone with Sarabeth not only to help her change into the baptism robes and then back into her Sunday clothes... there needed to be somebody with Sarabeth who has the ability to calm the nerves that we knew she would have.

So if you combine my love for being behind the scenes and my love for my niece and my pride in her decision to accept Christ and my excitement at being trusted/needed to help Sarabeth with her baptism... it's the perfect storm for me.

When I walked out of my Sunday School room this morning... Angie was standing there on the brink of tears... her nerves raw... Sarabeth was on her way to the sanctuary with her dad and she was starting to freak out a bit. I hugged Angie... told her not to worry about it... "I've got it, don't worry"... and left her to go practice with the choir. I caught up with Jim and Sarabeth - she was dressed in her pretty girly green easter dress - and you could see the relief on her face.

Sarabeth is a bit of a worrier. I think it's partly from being the firstborn of two firstborn children. Overachievers and all that. I'm much more relaxed - being in the less demanding role of second born and being a bit carefree by nature. I think Sarabeth relaxes when the people around her relax. I grabbed her hand... we made a quick trip through the sanctuary and greeted our family (taking up a row and a half) and set down my purse and bible.... and headed "backstage".

Let me just say that I'm really proud of my boys. They are so good at the familial obligatory stuff! All three were there, which is quite a feat considering that Ryan lives in Pennsylvania and Cody lives in Atlanta. It was really more the hand of God in that Ryan is running a job in Tampa this week and his boss was kind/considerate enough to fly Ryan to Atlanta this past Friday to allow him a weekend at "home" before flying him to Tampa on Monday. Sometimes it just comes together that way. My 85 year old grandmother also drove herself "over the mountain" from North Carolina to be there. That's also pretty awesome, if you think about it.

Sarabeth and I went back into the tiny little bathroom beside the baptistry and changed her into her little white short set that she was to wear under her great big baptism robe. Then we went out to take a peek at the baptistry... to test the water (it was cold!) ... and to put that great big robe on her. I told her it looked like a graduation robe and sang a little Pomp and Circumstance to her. We giggled. We danced. We took pictures. No stress.

Her dad was on the other side of the baptistry across from us as the service started. The first praise song started and we sang along and danced and played. Bubba danced and sang on the other side. No stress. No nerves. Just lots of giggles and hugs and lighthearted silliness. We were singing, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord..." and we did. In some ways I wish I could spend every worship service as uninhibited as Sarabeth and I were dancing around backstage. We are, however, baptist. Not stiff "First Baptist" baptists... but not quite pentecostal to the extent of the bootie shaking and roof raising we were doing before Sarabeth's baptism.

For our faith, baptism is symbolic of following Christ's example. The conversion happens outside of the water in acknowledging the deity and the trinity and so on and so forth... but a public profession of faith followed by baptism as an act of obedience is important. It's not the water that saves, but the water that offers us one of our first opportunities to serve Him. It's very easy to say the words that you believe in God, that you believe Jesus was His son who came to earth and died on the cross to pay the debt for our sins. It's harder to have the humility to handle the public part of obedience. To have the courage as a small child to stand up and say you believe in God and want to follow Christ in baptism... I think it's just incredible.

But I've been telling you guys for a long time just how incredible my nieces are.

Jim went into the (cold) water... said his spiel (no disrespect, it was lovely and all, but my focus was on making sure Sarabeth didn't get cold feet)... he prayed a prayer... and beckoned for Sarabeth. She had no fear... no hesitation... and unlike the week before when we had skid marks in the carpet from dragging her down the aisle... she went willingly. She chattered a bit... the water was cold... Jim shared the story of her phone call to him in Africa to say, "Daddy, I asked Jesus into my heart and I want you to baptize me". Which still chokes me up. And so he baptized her. I got some great shots... and if any of us cried, I didn't notice. I was busy grabbing towels to wrap her in when she came out of the water.

Back into the tiny bathroom to towel off and warm up... back into her pretty green easter dress... more giggles and silliness... then I took her up to Children's church. Mission accomplished! I joined my family in the sanctuary.

After church I picked up the girls from their classes and with much logistical confusion, we all loaded up in cars and went to Jim and Angie's for lunch catered in from North Georgia BBQ. Then my dad and my boys and Marquee and Tasha went tubing in Helen while the rest of us enjoyed peanut butter cake and blueberry pie and more pictures and silliness.

It has been a great day!


cw2smom said...

Loved the story! I am glad it all worked out! She's a precious little girl! I have a redhead, so I am partial to them! Blessings to you all, Lisa

moshell's lilbit of space said...

Wonderful news Heather....this is ALWAYS a blessing watching another get baptized, especially a child.

We actually had a teenager get saved yesterday at our service. This young man has started walking to our church (over a mile) because his parents do not support any church and he doesn't want any members to come and pick him up, as to not get grief at home.

Please add him to your prayer list (and his parents) his name is Eric