"The heart of a man plans his way but the LORD establishes his steps." (Proverbs 16:9)
Before the worship service yesterday, I had these grand visions (or delusions of grandeur) of my 3 older children obediently and angelically standing in front of the congregation as our 4th baby would be baptized. I even "prepped" them for this event by instructing Christopher to stand close to me and Sarah to hold tightly to Hannah's hand since I had to hold Mary Grace. Being that John would be doing the baptizing, I was prepared to corral the kids on my own. At least I thought I was prepared. Kids have such a knack of going way beyond your expectations...but in a completely different direction!
Now why on earth would I have such ridiculous expectations? When Christopher was our only child, I remember welling up with all sorts of tender emotions during his baptism. When Sarah was baptized, I remember wrestling my 19 1/2 month old Christopher just to keep him still and feeling a bit frazzled afterwards rather than misty-eyed. When Hannah was baptized just last year, I recall both Christopher and Sarah having a grand ol' time hopping down the steps of the stage. Mary Grace's baptism yesterday proved to be more like the last two and less like the first.
Here you see John and I straining to listen and respond to our baptismal vows that Patrick was reading to us. Sarah and Christopher walked up to the front by themselves and left me with Hannah and Mary Grace, so John came to the rescue since I couldn't get Sarah to stay on her task of holding Hannah's hand. Christopher took it upon himself to grab Hannah's hand and keep her from running away, but he tends to be a little less nurturing and gentle than Sarah would be so Hannah resisted his efforts. Sarah took great interest in the flower arrangements and all of the cool objects on the communion table. Hannah kept grabbing the microphone on Daddy's robe and pulling it off. When we responded "I do" to the baptismal vows, Hannah grabbed Daddy's nose for fun. Then to top it off, I saw Christopher doing dinosaur charades out of the corner of my eye.
John put Hannah down, picked up the baptismal bowl and handed it to Patrick. I handed Mary Grace to John and then quickly scooped up Hannah from climbing on the front row chairs. As soon as the cold water hit Mary Grace's head, she began to wail and John said, "Well, here Mommy..." The congregation cracked up because as soon as John started to give Mary Grace back to me, he said, "Nevermind" realizing I already had my hands full with Hannah. As he began to tell the congregation about Mary Grace, Sarah thought it would be great fun to play hide-and-seek underneath his big black robe. By this point, the congregation was roaring with laughter and we had lost complete control over the entire situation (not sure we ever had it in the first place).
John quickly tied up his comments and I soon realized that we didn't have a good exit strategy since John had to go back to the pulpit for the Scripture reading. I put Hannah down, took a loudly crying Mary Grace back into my arms and began to walk them both down to the nursery wing. Thankfully Patrick had the presence of mind to walk Christopher and Sarah in the opposite direction to children's church. Maybe we should have done a "dry run" (no pun intended) beforehand, but then it would have been so much less chaotic and therefore less entertaining. We captured the whole blessed event on video so that we can remember this 3-ring circus in years to come.
The expression on Christopher's face above suggests that he had been scheming and planning this chaos all along.
Here he is pretending to be an Struthiomimus dinosaur.
Being that Hannah is only 18 months old and has no prior experience standing up in front of the congregation, we did expect the most action from her.
Sarah LOOKS sweet and innocent...
My mom thoroughly enjoyed being the photographer of the day. I saw her laughing behind the camera during Sarah's hide-and-seek under John's robe. As we were packing everyone up to finally leave the sanctuary, we realized that we didn't have any pictures with her in them. We were too exhausted to round up all of the kids who were running throughout the sanctuary by this time, but we did manage to get a picture of her holding Hannah (above) and Mary Grace (below).
All of this excitement even wore out Mary Grace. What a day!
Now that I have had a little time to stand back and reflect, I am truly thankful that God's covenant promises are for believers and their offspring as we seek to raise our children up to know, love and worship the risen Christ. And even though it made for an eventful day, I also think it is a wonderful privilege that each of our children has been baptized by their Daddy.
"And I will establish my covenant between Me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you." (Genesis 17:7)