When I first started planning for my eight year old daughter‘s baptism, I thought about all our usual traditions. I had no idea her baptism would be very different from a typical baptismal day.
Essential Preparations for Baptism
Our usual preparations begin with teaching the importance of baptism. Clint and I discussed with our family the covenant Rebekah would be making with God and how He had blessed us as a result of our baptisms. When we were baptized we promised God to keep His commandments, follow Jesus Christ’s example, and essentially obey the law.
We talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost Rebekah would receive after her baptism. This is a special time for us to share our hearts and for the children to ask questions even when some kids are a bit wiggly.
In our church, children are baptized at eight years old as they are then old enough to be accountable for their choices. Jesus taught that little children have no sins so they don’t need baptism. Rebekah has looked forward to her baptism day for years.
So, a sweet children’s song was going through my head while I wrote this post. The joyful lyrics remind me Jesus loves little children’s innocence. Young children intuitively trust the Holy Spirit when it testifies of Christ. I love seeing their faith in Him! This YouTube rendition of I Know That My Savior Loves Me is adorable.
Lovely White Dress
Getting a beautiful white dress is a fun tradition. Rebekah and I looked online to find one. She already knew she wanted a long dress with short sleeves. Rebekah instantly fell in love with a beautiful dress from White Elegance. It was a lacy princess-length gown with a flower and a ribbon. I waited to buy it though, hoping for a sale.
A couple months before her baptism day, everyone was ordered to quarantine! All churches were closed, so my family decided to follow the current prophet’s guidelines and worship in our home instead. Since we couldn’t go to church for the foreseeable future, I wondered if I should buy a special dress for my daughter!
I had forgotten the reason we dress up when we go to church isn’t so other people will admire us for what we wear. If we were meeting someone important, like a queen or president of our country, we wouldn’t dress in everyday clothes. We dress in our best for church as a way of honoring God.
God doesn’t care if what we wear costs much; in fact, I suspect He likes it better when we are frugal so we can be generous with those less fortunate. We wear our best to help direct our minds to God instead of the beach, mountains, or playground. I know dressing up on Sunday, whether at home or in a church, helps me feel more refined. It is easier to remember Sunday is a day dedicated to time with family and worshipping God.
I eventually found a coupon and bought my daughter’s favorite dress. She wears it as we worship in our home, for now, on Sundays. It has been fun to watch her enjoyment. It reminds me how much God loves to give us good gifts too. He sent us His Son as the best gift of all!
Do I Still Get Baptized?
The week of Rebekah’s baptism she met with our bishop online. My husband and I participated in the discussion as well. He asked her questions to see if she understood the significance of baptism and see if she had any questions herself about baptism.
Only immediate family and one member of the bishopric would be able to come, though we could have a conference call for other family members. (After Rebekah’s baptism, news was released that day that up to twenty people could now attend a baptism.) Rebekah still wanted to be baptized and not put it off until after the quarantine, even though her cousins wouldn’t be able to come.
I had considered a virtual birthday party previously so I was aware of conference calls becoming more popular. In fact, we had a lovely early Mother’s Day Zoom meeting just a week before with all the cousins. The family enjoyed a Family Home Evening lesson, shared memories, and sang hymns. But we opted to not do this with the baptism. I am very glad we simplified things.
Baptism and the Priesthood
We drove to the church for her baptism on a Saturday morning. The same warm, joyous feeling that has been present at all my children’s baptisms was there.
Because of the coronavirus quarantines, my son Joseph had been returned home temporarily from his mission to Bolivia. He has since gone out again to serve his mission, but now in Riverside, California (near Corona, CA) and is subsequent to the lockdown restrictions, of course. What a blessing to have him with us for his sister’s baptism!
Joseph gave a brief talk on Baptism and played the piano while we sang hymns. My other missionary son, Benjamin, gave a talk too on the gift of the Holy Ghost. My husband baptized Rebekah since he has the priesthood. Benjamin and Joseph do, too, so they were able to help him lay hands on her head to confer the gift of the Holy Ghost with the bishop’s counselor.
Afterward, we enjoyed taking pictures together in the beautiful spring weather. I loved the new flowers which reminded me of hope and new birth just as Rebekah had been ‘reborn’ to Christ. The pictures turned out beautiful and reminded me of a wedding photo shoot.
My son reminded me later that during their enthusiastic selfies session with my phone, it fell and the screen shattered. However, I was still able to take pictures with it the rest of the day. It died a day or two later. I needed to replace it anyway so was not too upset. It may have been perfect timing.
Celebrating Together as a Family
Just because we couldn’t have aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents over didn’t mean we couldn’t celebrate! As we always have family over for a baptism, I had purchased some fun treats during a shopping trip a couple months earlier. My children had no trouble deciding what to do with the extra Smashmallows (yum!), cookies, and chocolate I had bought.
I made some mini Rocky Road cupcakes modifying an Epicurious recipe to make it gluten free because Rebekah wanted marshmallows in her treats. As I was beginning to bake, I couldn’t find the bag of chocolate chips just minutes after getting them out. I looked all over and finally prayed. Rebekah showed up a few seconds later. She had discovered my toddler happily hidden by the side of my bed, munching away on the now open bag of chips.
I may be intuitive, but I am not always. When I tried going off intuition before when I added vegetables to my baking recipes, my children were not enthused. I had one attempt that for truly was unappetizing! I’ve found when I ask God to help with creating new dishes, they turn out delicious.
I was frustrated while baking this time because I only halved some ingredients. After fixing that mistake, I moved on to deciding the flour substitution to make it gluten-free. None of the ingredients I considered felt quite right. Frustrated, I finally told myself I couldn’t do this. I felt God respond, “Yes, you can!” So, I sat down, tried to relax, and trusted Him to help.
I soon received an idea for the substitution. The little ones helped me top our treat with cookie dough flavored Smashmallows before putting them in the oven. The results were unexpected but delicious! I would say it turned out like a soft-baked edible cookie dough. The treats were happily consumed.
Rebekah delightedly created her own treat for our family with pineapple Smashmallows, confetti cookies from Trader Joe’s, and chocolate chips in adorable flower-shaped cupcake wrappers. The next day, when I made some llama-shaped chocolates (inspired by my son’s mission to Bolivia), Rebekah delightedly topped her remaining goodies with the llamas.
It’s About God and Family
The kids played games and we watched several episodes from Season 1 of Redwall. We don’t remember what we ate for dinner that night. It wasn’t the food that was the main purpose of the day but the joy of coming to Jesus Christ and being together.
None of this was what I originally imagined. It was better! Rebekah says her favorite memory of her baptism day is “happiness”. Truly, “the Lord is in the small details of our lives” as well as the large.