Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eliza's Baptism

(Dear reader: if you'd like to skip the sentimental blah, blah, blah... you may click HERE to see the beautiful photos her primary president, and photographer extraordinaire, took; unless your name is Andrew Flegal. In that case, you are required to read every single sappy word. xoxo)

(Written Saturday, May 17th... photos added later)

Dear Eliza,

At this moment, the kitchen is a disaster zone, I can hear Forrest emptying out a nearby cupboard (he's having a blast doing it, by the way) and I lack the motivation to locate the camera so I can begin downloading the photos from today's celebrations. However, my heart is so full right now that I think it might burst; which is what brings me to this letter.
Today, you were baptized. My darling girl, you shine! As I met you in the dressing room following your baptism, your blue eyes, full of such joy, pierced mine in the most brilliant way. It's a feeling and a look I will never forget.
I am proud of you and the testimony that you have grown and carefully nurtured. You've done this through personal prayer, studying the scriptures, participating at church and in our family home evening lessons. As I sat in that room today, I felt peace accompanied by an electric surge of confidence as I recognized that you were truly prepared for this moment.
These past months, you have read and listened (thank you gospel library app) to your scriptures. We made sure to review and explain baptismal covenants during family home evening. I even invited the sister missionaries over for dinner, a great night by the way, to spiritually pump you up! And while I am a most proficient nag, you have always been solid at following through. That's why you are where you are.
 
These activities became special memories, but really the preparation for today began from the time you were little. I've realized, as I've thought about your younger siblings, that what's more important than that cute KIT KAT pinterest inspired handout, is being a better disciple of Christ myself. It's one thing for me tell you that gospel living brings me great joy, but oh how my actions matter more than flowery statements.
The same is true when thinking about the beautiful details of your baptism. As much as I enjoyed displaying your angelic, "no she's not getting married," baptismal photos along with the collection of flowers your Daddy gathered from our yard this morning; that's not what mattered. The ordinances that were preformed, being baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, is what the day was really about.

You're on your way to returning home to our Father in Heaven! As I already mentioned, being a member of the Church really has brought me great joy in my life. It's a wonderful path you've set out on, but you and I both know it will be full of challenges.

Compared to others, my list of current challenges may seem soft. Soft or not, they are mine. I acknowledge that it isn't an easy thing getting four children ready, by myself, each Sunday. We have 9:00 church and your Dad has early Sunday morning Bishopric meetings. It can be stressful and I often express my frustration.

"Hurry fast, kids! It's time to get in the car!" I yell. "Where did your Church shoes go, dear child? GOSH! You guys! We've got to get to Church so we CAN FEEL THE SPIRIT!" You see the irony, yes? To our credit, I will say, we are usually ten minutes early. Because that's how I roll (and I have to often conduct Relief Society). Not to mention, I'm pretty good at planning ahead after months of having to do this.

Also, relating to Church responsibilities, it isn't easy leaving you during the week to go on relief society visits and missing our bedtime routine. It isn't easy hearing the sad, heart wrenching challenges that many sisters and families in our area are struggling with and being at a loss in regards to how to better help them. It isn't easy seeing Dad leave for work related travel for weeks at a time and knowing that it's up to me to beat up the potential bad guys, rescue you all from a house fire and protect you from an earthquake (and about 10,000 other "I just peed in my pants" type scenarios that accompany my thoughts as I try to fall asleep). It isn't easy living in a world that mocks what is most sacred and precious.

It isn't always an easy thing, trying to serve and live as we should, but I promise that being a member of the Church is worth it!
 Daddy would remind you to always stop and smell the roses.
While Mom would say; plan ahead and leave a little early...give yourself enough time, etc.

I have faith that after we endure to the end, all will be made right and complete through Christ's atonement. Thankfully, every now and again, heaven meets earth for a special moment. When this happens, I feel this blessed reassurance that this Gospel is true and this path is correct. Jesus Christ lives! He knows you, Eliza, personally and loves you more than you can comprehend. Today, was one of those most special days when such special witnesses were seen, heard and felt.

The adversary will always try to distract and prevent a spiritual experience. There was contention this morning, I confess, as we were getting ready. I apologize for that and am even more embarrassed (and proud) to say that you were the one who helped us get back on track. Your Dad turned on beautiful music which helped invite the spirit, I cracked a few jokes signaling that I was giving up my frustrations and you literally danced around; singing your excitement.Thank you for being our example today.
Other special memories include:

During the hustle and bustle our sweet neighbor, Miss Nancy, who is currently traveling in Spain called to talk to you. She let you know you were in her thoughts and wished you the best of luck on your important day. That call from her made you feel special. It was a thoughtful thing to do (as well as tricky when you consider the time differene!).
Finally the time came for us to go to the church; just the two of us. The sound of the font filling with water greeted our ears. It was with great pleasure that I smoothed out table clothes and thoughtfully placed your photos and baptism program on tables in the hallway. The flowers your Dad had collected on your behalf were likewise on display. It looked so lovely.
You were dressed in your white baptismal dress; while your beautiful hair was pulled back into a braid. We were ready to go, with a half hour to spare, when Papa and Nana Marie arrived. Nana presented you with a charcoal drawing which featured eight year old YOU. She spent many hours (days, weeks, months) working on it. You and I admired her masterpiece together. These photos don't do her detail justice.

Bubba arrived next! And the Taylors, followed by our friends the Hansens and our good friend, Miss Peggy. Matt and Allison Mays, three of our next door neighbor friends (The Perrys) and the Chamberlains also made it on time. We were nearly set. Except, in the back of my head, I was concerned about our special friend Patti who had promised to come. Patti has serious physical and emotional challenges. Her road has been very difficult and her health is rapidly declining. Amidst her trials, you and Patti have become dear friends. I called her right when it was to begin to see if she was coming. She had the time wrong! She started sobbing into the phone saying that she was going to try her best and come! I prayed that she'd make it.

It began with a musical number that you requested. Together, we held hands and sang, "Teach me to walk in the Light." All eyes were on you, sweet girl. And most of them were wet with tears.

Bubba gave a wonderful talk on baptism. My Mom summed it up well when she said, "He could be a Primary President" considering the teaching tools he brought with him. His comments were tailored perfectly for you. He carried you in his arms (had to be there) as he explained that through Christ's grace we are saved, after we've done all we can do. Before all that he asked,

"Do you know what your middle name, Grace, means?" Sweetly you replied,

"I don't know, kind of an 'elegance'?" It was cute.

Patti still hadn't arrived by the time he concluded his remarks. I told myself to focus on you and not her. And I did. I was really enjoying it all, while shoveling fruit snacks in Forrest's mouth as fast he demanded. He was getting fussier by the minute! Nap time was calling. Even so, I asked if we could improvise a little and bump up the next musical number before your baptism in hopes that Patti would make it. Everyone kindly agreed.

With your cousins and siblings surrounding you, the group of children sang, "When I am baptized." You sang the loudest. It was done very well. It was finally time!
I told your Dad to wait just a minute while I readied your towel. You were calm and collected as Daddy performed the ordinance. My eyes were full of tears. So were Dad's. The emotions attached to that moment resembled your actual birth. I was amazed at what had just happened. The biggest difference, however, was you. Your face beamed with light. Wearing a most beautiful smile, your face found mine. And that's when I heard the words,

"Patti is here!" She had missed watching you go under the water, but was there in time to see you give her a giant smile and a big wave before you left the font! I later told Patti that she wasn't allowed to feel sad or else I would feel sad for missing the actual dunk. She promised and then sat and joined us for the rest of the meeting. You then dressed in your baptism gown and greeted her properly with a big hug. It was a miracle in my book that she had made it.
Your Papa then gave a talk on the Holy Ghost which included my favorite scripture:

Look Unto Me In Every Thought. Doubt Not. Fear Not.
His talk was likewise wonderful. I could tell; even from the hallway where I paced with a fussy baby named Forrest. My cute friend, Gilda Hansen, took over so I could return for your confirmation. Your Dad's voice cracked with emotion as he commanded you to receive the Holy Ghost. The words that he spoke during that blessing touched my heart deeply. I'm sorry to be Mama Cheeseball McGee, but days like this are rare and special. I watched your face as you stood and shook each hand. Tenderly, you hugged your Dad. I waited for you to fill my arms with a hug. Instead, you situated yourself right into my lap. Even though I wasn't expecting that, I was super happy. I got to squeeze and kiss you as much as I wanted as we listened to the closing comments.

And just like that. It was over. Except for the part where I annoyingly requested that everyone stay for a few photos. I cleaned up our belongings, trying to soak in the feeling of that room, which had suddenly become sacred to me, before leaving. Waiting for us at home was a house full of faces we love and a heaven sent day of gorgeous weather.
I love you Eliza Grace Flegal. I thank God every day that he sent you to our home. You are a wonderful daughter and great example and friend to your brothers and sister. You are full of compassion and thoughtfulness, a brilliant thinker and have a beautiful testimony. If your friendship with Patti wasn't example enough, I close with this sweet memory to illustrate that point.
Around Easter time, you crafted a group of cards for our close neighbors in which you included a drawing of the Savior with your testimony. You did this on your own, cute girl. With enthusiasm, you delivered them all.
"Dear friends, The next holiday is Easter
and please remember his resurrection, kindness
and his loving, caring spirit & soul. He was so kind
so this is his special day. Your friend, 
Eliza F. 
 
Dear friends, I hope you 
will have a great Easter
And remember Jesus. 
 He is such a wonderful person. 
Please remember his resurrection and when he helped Mary. 
This Easter please remember him. 
Your friend,
Eliza F.
 
One more. I shared this on Instagram already, but on Mothers Day (your 8th birthday) you danced into my bedroom with a bag of goodies you'd "purchased" from the Uintah Store (school). All year you worked hard to earn Uintah bucks. I found out later that you used all of your Uintah bucks on my Mothers day gift.

You are so dear to me. I'm very thankful for the relationship we share and hope we stay close as we continue on this path together.

I love you infinity times infinity (times infinity)
Mom

5 comments:

rachel garber said...

I read every sentimental word AND looked at all her pictures :) Gorgeous! Oh my goodness - the one of her back to the camera and her looking at the temple? My favorite. Your family is so great, just so great.

Moffat Family said...

You are the cutest mom :) You're kids are darling! And I love everything you write…what an awesome talent you have to be able to put your thoughts into such beautiful words.

*Jess* said...

Beautiful :)

Audra said...

So sweet! Did she have two white dresses?

Karen said...

What a special, lovely day. All of the photos are beautiful.