Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
Tears filled my eyes as my precious daughter fed the ducks and skipped along the paths at Beus Pond. Her electric curls stood out against her soft white dress, the very dress I wore 23 years ago as I entered the waters of baptism. Back then, my grandpa – Papa, as we called him – would take me to that pond. We fed the ducks and ran away from Honker, the ornery goose.
Now there are several Honkers waddling around. I smiled as I wondered if any of them were direct descendants. I scanned the trees, smelled the air, and analyzed the way the light reflected off the pond. I watched Olivia flit around and wanted to take it all in. Can I tell you how my heart sang?
My little girl was going to be baptized, to make a sacred covenant to follow her Savior, Jesus Christ, every day of her mortal life so she could, in turn, live with him forever. If you ask Olivia, she'll tell you she's prepared to keep the commandments, lighten the burdens of her fellowmen, and stand as a witness of Christ no matter what. She's a star. But this is about more than proud motherhood for me.
The duck pond is just up the street from Papa's old house. It's just up the street from the yard where he was working when he collapsed 18 years ago from a massive heart attack. It's just up the street from the church where we held his funeral, and where I said goodbye to him one last time before they closed his casket.
Ah, but that's the thing. It wasn't the last time.
See, I want my daughter to be baptized not because it's a tradition or a neat milestone, but as an important step in ensuring that our family is together for all eternity. To the one who makes and keeps precious covenants with God, death is never goodbye.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for Jesus Christ. His incomprehensible grace ensures that every soul who has ever lived will be resurrected, like he was, and exist forever. We are lovingly saved from death by grace! But what kind of forever we enjoy depends not only on our being saved by grace, but on our choosing to be changed by grace.
Baptism opens the gate leading down the path of change. It's a path that requires covenants, ordinances, repentance, service, sacrifice and humility. It requires that we study the Savior and his gospel extensively so we truly know what he expects of us – not just follow our friends. It requires us to be clean and virtuous so we are worthy of his investment in us. It's a path of hard work and obedience, but it ends with families knit together in the kind of forever God himself enjoys.
The world tells us these things aren't important, that they're old-fashioned or just traditions. I say they're everything, absolutely everything.
This blog received 723 page views last month. My heart has been so full, I wanted to share a piece of it with all of you. I know Jesus Christ is real and that he died for us. I know his gospel, his priesthood authority, and true and living prophets are found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There's so much good out there. We invite everyone to come and let us build on what you already have. Understanding of God's entire plan for us, from beginning to end, has given me a deep sense of purpose and peace.
When Olivia and I came home from her photo shoot at the pond, I noticed a smear of dirt on her white dress. That dirt didn't want to come out at first. But with a little work, the dress became pure white again. Every single one of us matters to the Lord. No matter what our past looks like, no matter how unworthy or insignificant we feel, no matter how difficult or stressful life seems, with a little work on our part, Jesus Christ can make us clean and whole. I love him.
*The photography was done by my beautiful friend Liz Whitesides. Stay tuned to see the whole photo shoot.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Olivia started her birthday off with a bowl of strawberries and cream before heading to school. That night, we had Panda Express for dinner (it's her tradition), then opened presents and ate cake. We kept things simple, knowing her big baptism day was coming up at the end of the week. Happy birthday, beautiful girl!