But this year we celebrated more than just a birthday.
This week, Ellie was also baptised. It might seem to some that eight years old is far too young to seriously take such an important step in life. In our faith, we believe that when a young person begins to understand the difference between right and wrong, and truly is beginning to understand that they can choose the right, they are ready to embark on the life long path of refinement that all who follow Jesus Christ journey along.
Ellie and I woke early yesterday morning and headed for the river a few hours before the baptism. There in the woods, the dew upon the ground and the low morning sun making the winter grasses glow a springtime green, she and I sat and read from the bible. I read a passage to her from my journal that I wrote to her when she was a baby. It sang of my love for her, my joy at her having come into our family, my worry that we would both let each other down sometimes, but my reassurance that I would always be here for her, always be proud of her and always adore her. Then I stepped away a little distance to allow her some private time to pray about the choice she was making to be baptised. As we walked back through the woods, she told me about the promises she was making to her Heavenly Father, and that she felt good about her choice.
It was a precious morning.
Then, later that morning, we went to the church where her daddy took her by the hand and helped her into the baptismal font. She beamed at him and was so happy.
Later we gathered with family and friends to share a meal and many smiles. Though most of our family were unable to be there, my dad and Guy's folks came. I missed my brothers and sisters, their families, and especially my mom. I wore her shoes and kept looking down at them, imagining her wearing them.
Maybe in some way, she was there with us.
I remembered my own baptism. I had been twelve at the time, and was so happy and ready to make that promise to follow in the footsteps of the Savior. It was a decision that has influenced every day of my life since that time. Even though I was young, making that choice later influenced choices I would go on to make later in High School and in college. It led me down the road where I would eventually meet and marry my sweet husband, and it has created who I am as a mother, wife and friend.
I know that the meaning of this day will grow to take on a greater meaning to Ellie as she learns more about life, about the gospel, and about who she is as a daughter of God. But for now she wants to follow the example of Jesus, and in it's pure simplicity it is what I would want for her and for all of my children for the rest of their lives.