July 01, 2005

Well, how about that.

Quite a busy night last night, let me tell you.

Boy had been invited to a sleepover/birthday party with one of his friends from school, which has required lots of behind-the-scenes activity. First, trying to remember who this kid is (Jonathan found a picture of him from soccer--"Oh, that kid!"), then the purchase of a gift (MegaMan), the packing of a bag with clothes, digging out the sleeping bag, calling the parents to find out how to get to their house, confirming the time and date (Thursday, after all, is an odd night for a sleepover, but they were going out of town this weekend), and a variety of other small stuff to get prepared.

The gift was gotten after Bible study Wednesday night at Wal-Mart (which is where we ought to start having church since we see everyone there anyway), then he got all of his clothes and stuff together yesterday morning.

Last evening, I came in and did the gift "wrapping" (in quotes, because it consisted of wrapping some tissue around MegaMan and stuffing him in a Happy Birthday bag), and sat to wait for Reba to get there with the kids.

Went ahead and got some chicken out for supper and put it in the microwave so we could start it as soon as they got home.

Read the mail.

Watched the news.

Played with the new gyroscope because I couldn't resist.

Waited some more. They sure are taking a long time.

FINALLY, they got home, Boy ran upstairs to take a bath, I showed everyone how the gyroscope can balance on a pencil, and rotate on a loop of string, and balance on a pencil. COOL! While all this was going on, with all the attendent noise, Reba said she had something to ask, and for some reason she was beyond serious.

"WHAT!? What's wrong!?"--fearing the worst, because of her odd demeanor. Basically, nothing--Ashley was wanting to go ahead and go spend a day or two with her other set of grandparents over the weekend since she probably wouldn't get any more time later on in the summer, and they get a bit tetchy if she doesn't spend some time there, so she wanted to go ahead now since she wasn't going to have to be at the library today or anything. "That's IT!?" I don't know why they thought I might balk, but it was okay by me. Maybe because it's a holiday weekend or something? Who knows!?

Girls, you know.

ANYway, the idea was that she could go over there today--Reba would take her, then go on to work. SO, she set about getting her stuff ready to go for tomorrow, while Boy finished up his bath. In amongst this, Reba decided to remind Oldest of the proper way to act when she went over--sometimes teenagers do have this problem of acting a bit snotty around grandparents, you know. REALLY! I mean, I've never seen such a thing, but I'm SURE it must happen. ::choke::cough:: Reba went upstairs and reminded her to be nice, and be polite, and not be sarcastic and rude, and told her to understand that when they go to church on Sunday, remember that Other Grandmom doesn't understand how uncomfortable it makes her when O.G. starts asking her when she's going to get baptized.

Ashley has been struggling with this for a while--she's wanted to become a Christian, but she knows a couple of things. It would require that she start acting the way she knows she's supposed to, and it would require an admission on her part that she's been wrong. She has always been the type who would argue a redwood into a stump before ever admitting she has ever been wrong about anything.

Then there has been her resistance to submitting to Christ because she sees so many other kids who did it just to fit in, or to satisfy their parents, and who then don't act any better than they did before--mean and spiteful and self-righteous--and who look down on her because she hasn't done things exactly like them. She's never liked that sort of petty hypocrisy, and I don't blame her. But, as we've told her before, you can't let the actions of others condemn you. You have to do right, even if they don't. And you have to do right for the right reasons--it's a conscious decision and not something you just back into.

And then, there's that familial pressure. We've always had good communication about it with her, telling her that it's her decision to make, not ours. It's important, and we wanted it for her, but she has to come to understand the importance of what she was doing on her own terms, and understand that once you've set your hand to the plow, there's no looking back. But, some relatives want 'em dunked as soon as possible, no matter what. That's pressure that's hard to deal with, especially when she's got so much other teenagery stuff going on. But, Reba just told her to understand that they don't mean her any distress, it's just the way they are.

After Reba came back downstairs and filled me in on their chat, Boy bounced down with his sleeping bag and began busily signing his SpongBob foldout card, and Reba, almost jokingly, said she wondered if she mentioned to Oldest that she could go ahead and be baptized before she spent the weekend, she could avoid the lectures. "Well, don't put it like that--that's not the reason she should be doing it--but, ask anyway, you never can tell what she might be thinking."

Indeed not.

Reba came back downstairs and said Ashley didn't want to wait anymore, and that fully understood the reasons behind her decision. And it wasn't just to get out of another lecture.

Well. Well, I'll be.

Looks like the birthday sleepover is going to have to wait just a bit. Called them to let them know we were going to be a bit late, then called Reba's mom and dad to get them to come to the building, then Oldest's grandparents, and my mom (who wasn't able to make it), and then asked if she wanted anyone from church to be there. Just our preacher and his wife--our youth minister was out doing a devotional and couldn't have come.

Got to the building and thanked the preacher for scooping up the bugs out of the water in the baptistery. Well, most of them, anyway. (We really need a pump and a filter to keep it clean.) Everyone had arrived by around 8, so I got Reba to go help Ashley into a robe (something sorta like a hospital gown, except not open in the back) and I got the preacher to help me on with the waders. I have thought a long time about this moment, and what it would be like, and what I would say. Needless to say, I forgot what I was going to say.

I helped her down into the water since she didn't have her glasses on--"What's that?"

"Bugs--they won't hurt you any."

"Eww. It's cold."

"It'll be okay, come on in."

I explained to her to put the towel over her nose, and once more that she didn't have to fall backwards or anything like that--she's terrified of putting her head under water, and we've been telling her if she just squats down she'd be fine--anyway, reminded her to squat, and then I looked at her, "Well, sugar, I know you've thought long and hard about this, and agonized over it. I'm proud of you for making this decision in your life, and it's a big one. I want you to realize, too, when you do this, you won't just be my daughter, you'll be my sister in Christ. That's special, because you know that the body fades, but the spirit lives on forever, and no matter whatever might happen from here on, we'll share that kinship. Now then, I just have one thing to ask you--do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?"

"Yes, I do."

"Based on that confession, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins."

She placed the towel over her nose, and I pushed her down under the chilly, buggy water and brought her back up.

I don't usually talk a lot about my faith in specific terms on here, mainly because so much of what I write is just silliness, and such silliness is not conducive to serious talk about serious matters. But, every once in a while, I beg your indulgence, and ask you to allow me a moment to rejoice with my daughter, and my new sister.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at July 1, 2005 09:15 AM

Congratulations! I know what a big decision that was for her.

This deserves some cake.

Posted by: Sarah G. at July 1, 2005 10:18 AM

As long as it's not devil's food cake...

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 1, 2005 10:30 AM

Wow! That is wonderful. I pray everyday that I don't scar my two little ones and that they will become Christians when they are older.

Our church, I think, has a filter for the bugs.

Posted by: Tracy T at July 1, 2005 10:40 AM

Well, as I told her, it's not nearly so bad as getting baptized in the river. At least there weren't any cottonmouths to worry about.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 1, 2005 10:44 AM

Whew, I'm glad I'm Methodist -- when I got baptized, the minister just put a hand towel over my shoulders and face, and poured water on my head from a pitcher. It was a very nice, pitcher, too.

Anyhow, I'm sure you and your family feel a great, new joy at your daughter's decision. I know that it took me a long time to decide to commit. I had spent much of my rebellious years feeling a great distrust of religion in general (the usual "look at all the grief caused in the name of religion" arguments). Fortunately, I had several friends who I respected as very intelligent people, who were also Christians. Over time, I observed that they were able to balance their faith and "the real world", all without compromising the kind of people they were. I figured that if they could do it, I could too.

Posted by: Dougal Campbell at July 1, 2005 11:00 AM

I would like to nominate this as BEST POST OF THE MONTH! Thank you for sharing as much as you did - it gladdened my heart to read your account.

Baptism should not be confused with the initial act of salvation, but it is an important part of the Christian life. Extra kudos for allowing your children to make their own decisions, waiting until they are old enough to make a responsible decision.

What a privilege it was for you to be in the baptismal pool with her! I hope you can post a picture of the wet-head.

Posted by: Spud at July 1, 2005 11:06 AM

And Dougal, I'm sure there were a lot less vermin in the pitcher as well. And you're right about the rebellious streak--I suppose it's something everyone has to go through. I think, though, her bigger problem was seeing people just being big put-ons and putting on a show. I think she has finally realized that doesn't preclude her from living right.

And Marc, sorry, but no pictures on this one.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 1, 2005 11:19 AM

Great news =]

Are late-night baptisms par for the course among y'all? I have to say I'm jealous- our pastors made us change our plans twice before we got a Sunday they'd agree to for Jay's baptism.

Posted by: Lenise at July 1, 2005 11:21 AM

Terry, what a wonderful circumstance to have the privilege of baptizing your own into God's kingdom. That is wonderful and special and cause for rejoicing both here on earth and in the most high.

Congratulations to both of you and thank you for sharing this wonderful, intimate blessing with us. God bless all of you.

I'm betting Ms Reba's mighty pleased.

Posted by: Nate at July 1, 2005 11:23 AM

Lenise, we don't wait--if the person wants to be baptized, we go ahead and do it then--bugs and all.

Thank you, Nate--it is indeed a warm moment for me, because I do know how hard she's struggled with her attitude and her place in the world. And yep, Reba was pretty proud as well.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 1, 2005 11:26 AM

Wonderful post, and why am I crying?

Posted by: Earth Girl at July 1, 2005 03:01 PM

I don't know, but if you don't stop you'll get me started.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 1, 2005 03:12 PM

Well praise the Lord!

As for dropping what you doing and going to the church, I kinda like it. Being a lifelong Southern Baptist, we usually wait until we've caught a mess of fish before we have a fish fry...

Posted by: BillW at July 1, 2005 03:19 PM

Well, we like to keep the pot hot and cook 'em as we get 'em. Never know when company might be coming.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 1, 2005 03:42 PM

Okay, I'm sitting here at work blinking back tears. Yea for Ashley!

Posted by: Kathy at July 1, 2005 04:35 PM

Thank you, Kathy.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 1, 2005 04:47 PM