12.21.2016

A Baptism Story (Part II)

This post has been on my mind for a long time and for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I want it to be the best thank you I can give to Amy for the amazing job she did on the Baptism party and for being the amazing person she is. Today is her birthday and I cannot postpone any longer.

On the day of the Baptism, I walked in the back door of the church with anticipation. I knew Amy had been diligently planning this special day and she was very excited about it. She had asked me months before if she could put on the party and I was so happy and relieved that she wanted to. I wanted to really celebrate this baby (Adam nixed any baby showers this time around), and Amy was just the gal to make it happen.


This is what I first saw when I walked in! It was beautiful and festive and gorgeous; beyond what I could have imagined. Amy enlisted a few people to help, but not too many because she is a doer and gets things done even with her six kids running circles around her! The cupcakes had Matthias' name on them and were so elegant and delicious. They were made by a friend Amy affectionately calls Steena. Most of Amy's close friends have nicknames and her kids as well.


Here she is, the Baptism Planner, making the punch. Do you see the framed picture behind the cupcakes?  It's Matthias' full name spelled out in Scrabble letters. That was just one of the special gifts Amy made for Matthias and for me. That's just part of who Amy is. She's crafty and almost all of the gifts she gives are made with love by her.



Here is another gift she made. I'm using it now to hold our Christmas cards.



The table decorations were beautiful along with many other special touches...


A banner to bless Matthias...


The festive atmosphere, carefully planned and executed, was practically perfect, but not to be outdone by the food.


It was delicious and celebratory as well, and plenty of it! That's Adam's mom holding the newly baptized boy. See how impressed with the food she is?

At one point, when Amy finally sat down, she asked me if it was everything I had wanted. I told her it was everything and more. The very best part was seeing her satisfied and smiling face. It was clear that she had enjoyed being the Baptism Planner and was happy with her work. That's just another thing I appreciate about Amy, she is able to recognize, without apology, that she has done something well.

Now I want to tell you the back story to this unique and special friend. Our friendship did not come easily.


Amy, and this may be understated, has a strong personality. She's the boss-the grand madame. I tend to be drawn to personalities like Amy's because I prefer the back seat. However, if someone comes on too strong, I usually walk away quickly because I don't like to fight. 

We met almost seven years ago at Amy's sister's house. Sarah, lived just down the block and we spent a lot of time together. Interestingly, but probably not surprising to those who know me, Sarah and I had many long discussions about faith. Amy and Sarah were raised in the Four Square Church. It's a non-denominational, evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic church (hope that describes it right). Needless to say, with that upbringing they both had strong bible backgrounds and a deep love for Jesus.

Amy's sister was interested in Catholicism and over the course of a couple years, her interest turned into a desire to join the Church. In the meantime, Amy was appalled, again that may be an understatement. She, in no uncertain terms, let Sarah and I know that the Catholic Church was "stupid" and we had a few rather intense debates where voices were raised and emotions aroused. At this point if I could have, I would have run away.

But I couldn't. Amy was my dear friend's sister and she was attacking what I loved most, my Catholic faith. It was impossible to back away from either, especially the latter.  So, with dread in my bones, I trudged on and so did she.

Amy took on the Catholic Church, and me, with a vengeance. She was determined to prove to Sarah what a crazy idea it was in order to save her from sure destruction, possibly even from hell (I'm not sure about that part, but maybe..and it sounds as dramatic as it was). Our discussions got pretty intense. I would squeak out my defense like a little mouse in front of a lion (maybe not quite that dramatic), then run under cover and pray while my heart pounded in my chest. At times I really had to resist the urge to run away. There were even times that I would be brought to tears. She is one tough cookie. 

Eventually, that cookie started to crumble and it was such a humble and beautiful thing. I don't mean she crumbled, but her arguments against the Church did. Over the course of four years, our friendship grew and our discussions started to be fun. She tried hard to resist the truth, but as she says herself, truth was calling.

Now, in just a few short weeks Amy, her husband and children will be joining R.C.I.A., a program for people interested in joining the Catholic Church, and I will be her sponsor. As a Christian who did not use to believe in infant baptisms and had never celebrated one, you can see why this baptism was special for her.

There is no other word to describe Amy's conversion but miraculous. She credits her desire to prove her sister wrong, as well as the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the transformation. I see myself as the very flawed and terrified messenger.  Only God could have planned this unlikely turn of events. Her nickname for me: The Converter.



These days Amy loves all things Catholic and especially enjoys feast day celebrations. In the above photos we were were hiking at Cape Perpetua on the Feast of St. Perpetua. 


This year for the Feast of St. Nicholas, her kids got icons that she modge podged onto painted wood. She has also embraced Advent in a way that would shame most life-long Catholics. Only yesterday, less than a week before Christmas, did I finally see Christmas decorations up at her house.

Our friendship is one forged in fire, but now shines like gold. Amy is a loyal and loving friend and even though she may seem like a lion, when she rests a for a moment, her children flock to her loving arms because she is one special mama.


Thank you, Amy, for the awesome Baptism party and for your friendship. What a journey this has been. Happy Birthday!

12.03.2016

A Baptism Story (Part I)

Little Matthias Henry, was born on September 14th, The Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, and on his Aunt Mandie's birthday. Two months later, Mandie and her husband, Isaac, stood with us as godparents at his baptism.

Here's part one of that holy (and fun) event...


If I could choose  one word to describe the whole day, I would probably choose "blessed." Our little mission church was packed to the brim with friends and family (sadly not my parents since they live too far away now). There were lots of kids, so the congregation wiggled and bubbled with anticipation. 

Just before Mass began, even though he had not eaten in a while, Matthias fell asleep. I figured the timing would be perfect, but I figured wrong. All through the Rite of Baptism, he fussed and cried while Adam and I bounced, rocked and passed him back and forth. When it came time for Fr. Palmer to pour the water over his head, Matthias had worked himself up to a pretty good cry. Matthias is the first of my babies to cry at his baptism. It was stressful, but at the same time it was sweet.




Another sweet moment was when Fr. Palmer dressed Matthias in a little white shirt to signify his new life in Christ. The little gold angels added a charming touch to special garment. I just loved it.


Although he looks content in this picture, Matthias was hungry. I whisked him away to nurse and have a diaper change; we returned in time for the Eucharistic prayers. 

Content now with his belly full, Matthias had the demeanor of a little cherub. His forehead was shiny with the chrism oil steeped in the ancient traditions of the Church, and made him smell saintly. That moment was profound and my heart swelled with joy and awe. It was a little like the feeling of standing in the middle of an old forest, the giant trees looming while the time falls away. The present moment feels insignificant and important at the same time.



Then, for some reason, Matthias began to be very interested in whatever was happening above us. As he looked up, his eyes moved quickly back and forth while his head followed. It was the same animated movement he makes when I place him in his crib under his mobile. I looked up and saw a plain old ceiling with nothing moving. I'm sure he was seeing the angels there to celebrate this eternal Mass with us! 

Wow! It really was so great, but that wasn't all. Afterwards there was a party to be had. A party put together by my dear friend and Baptism Planner, Amy. Everyone needs a friend like Amy.  The party was so great, it has to have a whole post to itself in Part II. Stay tuned.





*Special thanks to Mary Beth the awesome pictures. 

11.17.2016

Minute by Intense Minute

Baptism Flowers

Believe me when I say I have tried to write multiple times this week. Master Matthias has become the master of my time. He spends a lot of his waking hours fussing. Thankfully, he's not a big crier, but it's still exhausting and time consuming. Especially when there is school, laundry, dishes and dinner to be done. Of course, there are always the extra things that come up, such as appointments, holidays and baptisms.

As a matter of fact, last Sunday was Matthias' baptism. Soon, this weekend maybe, I will try to write a whole post on it. The day could not have been more perfect thanks to my dear friend, Amy. She was my "baptism planner" and did a out-of-this-world job on the party afterwards. The baptism itself was also out of this world, but more on the whole thing later. I can't wait to write all about it and share pictures too!

Day to day life around here has been intense. With the baptism came guests, six of them, who all stayed in our house. It was so nice to have all of them (grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, and four cousins). Majority of the work to get beds ready, food in the fridge and floors cleaned, was ferociously accomplished by Adam, because he does all things with fixed intensity. Meanwhile, I walked in blurry eyed circles and bounced the baby or worked on school lessons with the other kids.

The day after every one left, we rushed off to the valley for an orthodontist appointment and then to Costco for food and Christmas gifts. That's right, Christmas is so close and our preparations have begun, as usual, in great Adam-haste. I guess I ought to appreciate his foresight, but honestly I'd prefer to rest in the current minute.

I discovered my motto on a Facebook share the other day:

Don't rush me, I'm waiting for the last minute.

Boy do I drive Adam and my kids crazy with that character flaw that I think is actually a gift. At least I'm not shaving years off my life being wound tight and worrying about the next rushed minute.

And so it goes in family life. And so it goes.


11.05.2016

Tween girls, games & a baby picture.

Ha! Let's see if I can write close to daily to get back in the habit. I'm not going to promise quality right now, but I can at least work to revive my writing skills as well as document some things that are going on.

Last night a bunch of girls ages 9 to 11 sat around our dining room table with board games. Clare loves to play games and I am so terrible about sitting down to play with her. That's why our house brimmed with laughter and games. We invited these girls just to come play for the evening. It was a success! Everyone had fun and I was able to visit with a few moms who stayed. My only complaint was that it was a little too loud for good adult conversation, but that's not what the night was about.

This is one of the first times I've actually organized something fun for one of my kids that wasn't connected to a birthday. Birthday parties require festive food, deliberate decorations, pricey presents and cumbersome clean up. Comparatively, our game night food consisted of a couple bags of chips, we did not have to decorate, and without wrapping paper and gift bags, clean up was a cinch.

I'll leave you with one of the latest pictures of Matthias at 7 weeks.