Carolina blue skies and a few puffy white clouds....it's a beautiful southern September day...
Sitting in church looking out the huge windows...watching the little squirrel that always runs in and out of the huge oak tree...watching the birds....and the breeze blowing through the trees. It's a perfect day. Holding my husbands hand...and thinking about what the day holds for him.... I am full of love and excitement...praying little "thank you's" for giving us this moment. I know we will never forget this day...
A few months earlier... the pastor had announced the baptism service at the lake. I silently nudged my husband and he smiled. After church... to my surprise...he told me that he was considering being baptized.
So here we are...September 11th....a day that many of us will never forget for so many reasons. I am so filled with Joy for Jason...and yet so filled with memories this significant day in our history. All week we've been watching the memorials...hearing the heroring stories of the survivors...grieving with the children that lost so much that day...and praising God for the miracles and the lives that were saved that day. Reminiscing about the sudden focus the nation seemed to have on God and our country. Churches were flooded...people were suddenly searching...realizing we had put our faith in things that maybe always weren't going to be safe, and secure....maybe we had put our faith in the wrong places?
But this year...this Sunday...I will forever remember September 11th for a whole new reason...a joyous one. This is the day that Jason is going to be baptized.
As we got to the lake...I was more than a little nervous about the kids being able to handle the crowd...the water...the sand...the loud PA system....the general basic sensory overload. Had I prepared them enough for the ceremony? This could be a rough afternoon and I knew it...but I was trying to relax and pray my way through it. "Lord give me patience...and wisdom with these kids...please help everyone to stay calm Lord...please O please".
I hopped out of the car and began rushing to gather ALL our stuff...trying to get the kids calmed down from a crazy car ride...my stomach already getting nervous...
All the sudden....I turned towards the lake and stopped...I felt like the Lord wrapped His arms around me as I looked at the little lake...I felt such a peace.
Huge oak trees hang lazily over a picturesque scene. A small sandy beach in the shade.... and an old wooden dock stretching out into a little swimming hole. The autumn sun was still hot...but under the trees there was a nice southern breeze blowing and it felt wonderful.
Of course...the kids immediately ran towards the water....Addie stopped at the edge of the sand screaming "sand in my shoes...sand in my shoes....sand in my shoes". I'm suddenly scrambling to take off her shoes and calm her down. Little C keeps running...as he stops at nothing...just plows down the beach and straight into the water. I'm yelling for Jason to grab him. And here we go folks...
I'm thinking thank goodness there's only two of them as my husband and I are scrambling around chasing Little C and calming Addie. I'm constantly reminded of how different they are...my little sensory seeker and my little avoider. Both on the spectrum and both so incredibly different.
Moments later grandparents, great grandparents, and friends begin to arrive. Picnic tables, chairs, blankets, homemade pimento cheese sandwiches, Nana's walnut cookies, and all the excitement begins.
Addie is avoiding the crowd.... hiding in a quiet shady spot under the swing set... digging in the sand. A friend comes over and asks her to help him build a castle.... she politely ignores him while continuing digging in the sand. So her friend just sits down next to her and digs his own castle. I was so proud of her for letting him play near her...and play in "her space". Especially with the overwhelming event going on around her.
Meanwhile, Little C is staying as close to the water as he can. Trying to jump in at every opportunity. As the crowd gets larger...Little C becomes more and more over stimulated. He's running in and out of the crowd at full speed...shaking his head side to side....laughing and screaming. Constantly seeking sensory input. It's taking all of our energy to keep him from jumping in the lake or running off into the crowd.
As I'm attempting to chat with friends and family...My eyes are constantly darting from one kid to the other...making sure...someone is with them....they're safe....and ultimately watching for the warning signs of impending melt downs.
As the service starts...Little C is kicking and screaming....he's way too wound up...with the crowd, the music, the food, the water...it's too much for him. I try to calm him as my mom gives him a snack. It's not working today....so we start taking turns running around the little playground area as he screams and yells and dives head first down the slide. Addie sits in the sand barefoot and silently digging...completely unaware that she's slinging sand on everyone near by. Her friend keeps asking her to play...trying to engage her...and she randomly answers him VERY LOUDLY. I was glad she was responding to him. But we were getting some glances from the crowd. She doesn't understand the volume of her voice...and appropriateness yet...so I sit down next to her. Trying to prompt her to use a quiet voice and giving her the words to say to her friend. My mom took over the duties with Little C...so I could focus on keeping Addie calm. And now I start to focus on the service....
Each person is lead into the lake...their testimony is read aloud...and someone is chosen to pray for them. It's beautiful...and personal...and such an intimate moment between them and God. It's how I always pictured a baptism should be. Such a huge celebration...yet so simple...and so full of love from an intimate crowd of friends and believers. Many tears...many speechless moments...such an emotional and uplifting journey. People that have been through so much...cancer, depression, addictions, just life...and the Lord has brought them through. Such amazing journeys...
As Jason made his way into the water. I took Addie's hand and asked her to walk with me to see daddy. She looked at me startled...I had interrupted her digging....she paused for a moment...and then followed me without complaint. I was surprised at her cooperation and excited for her to see this amazing moment. We walked to the front of the crowd and sat in the sand on the edge of the water. We had read books all week about what daddy was doing and how Jesus was baptised...and that's why daddy wants to be baptised. She sat quietly as the pastor read Jason's testimony...about how he grew up...how he accepted Christ in high school...how our lives have radically changed since the birth of our two children...and ultimatley how much closer he feels to the Lord now than ever. I sat their in tears...listening...and watching Addie's wide eyes looking at her daddy. Then my dad prayed for Jason....of course this really made me cry....my dad was tearing up through the whole thing. It was a beautiful prayer and such an special moment. Everyone was sitting silently as Jason was about to be baptised...it's this surreal peaceful moment. I looked at Addie...not sure what she would do once he went under water. I hoped I had prepared her enough and that she wouldn't get upset.
"In the name of the Father...and the Son...and the Holy Spirit..." ...the pastor baptizes J.
As my husband was pulled up out of the water....Addie jumped up in front of everyone..."Oh no" I thought..."what is she going to do?"
All the sudden....."YAY DADDY....YAY DADDY....YAY DADDY"....she was screaming and clapping and jumping up and down. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. I will never forget that moment with her jumping up and down...screaming.... with a huge smile on her face. It was so perfect ...so innocent...so unforgettable. It was the PERFECT response. I was so proud of her.
After the service...the children's minister walked over to me with tears in her eyes. She said "you know it's almost as if she was cheering for her daddy and The Daddy in heaven all at the same time." WOW. So true.
I learned so much that day at the lake. I was so proud of Addie and her most amazing response. I was so happy that she had understood somewhere on her level that this was a special day. I was so overjoyed for J and what the day meant for him in his walk with Christ. I truly blessed by all the people's journeys that walked into the water that day. And I was amazed at all the stories from the September 11th 10 years ago. We all have a journey.
Some journeys may be rockier than others...some filled with hurt...some filled with blessings. It may be different than anyone elses...it may be a journey like Addie's and Little C's. It may be a butterfly journey.
But no matter how hard it may seem...and how crazy life becomes...how hurtful or how blessed....I hope I can always remember to say....
YAY DADDY...Jumping and screaming and dancing...YAY DADDY!!!