Tonight we dedicated Annablair to the Lord in a small, simple and intimate baptism in our home. We did the same thing with Nora Beth, and both ceremonies were so special to me as we commemorated that we will do our best and fight our fiercest to ensure that these darling girls are raised to know Jesus as their Savior.
We welcomed a small group of our most treasured loved ones at 5:30 (and kept the ones that couldn’t be here close in our hearts). I had a small spread of hummus, berries, cheese, crackers, buffalo chicken sliders, oatmeal cream pie brownies (what?!) and wine (because it was a baptism but wasn’t in a church… hey-o!). We gathered together around Annablair, wearing the christening gown my mom made my sister 27 years ago and that Nora Beth wore 2 years ago, to the strains of Storybots playing on Davey’s cellphone to keep our uncharacteristically cranky toddler entertained (nothing holier than some educational animated robots, amiright? And we had a tantrum or two afterward because she neeeeeeded more blackberries and water cups without lids and her paci and my phone and daddy’s phone and all the phones).
What a joy to watch our girls be surrounded by so much faith and love and commitment to see them raised in a way that glorifies the Kingdom.
We were able to coax Nora Beth to join in for a few photos (while David held the Storybots-playing phone over the picture taker’s head, of course). C’est la vie. This boisterous, noisy house holding so many special people creating such treasured memories is everything I could ask for.
Before turning things over to our beloved staff pastor, Alan, I shared a letter that I wrote earlier this week.
It’s hard to remember what our lives were like before Nora Beth and Annablair came charging into them, carrying with them the very nature of joy, of goodness, of grace, of hope, of faith and of potential. I don’t think David and I have ever seen a closer resemblance of God’s heart or face than when we held them in our arms and were able to call them “beloved daughter.”
When we learned in October 2015, that what we thought would be our second child was being deferred to a later date, in the midst of the hollow absence there was stirring a gentle whisper urging us to wait and see what was coming. In the darkest hours of desperation I could cling to the gossamer threads of that hope that more was on its way.
And on January 5, 2017, we met that gentle whisper. Annablair Emory Arey is undoubtedly the child we had waited for. When we look at her beautiful face and encounter her peaceful Spirit, there is no loss… only the fullness of joy that took longer than 9 months to take its full shape. And just as Nora Beth took more than 2 years to be knitted for us, Annablair’s perfect form just took a little bit longer on those divine needles.
And she’s here. And she’s everything we could have ever prayed for. She is every amen and every good thing. But we wouldn’t be… couldn’t be… standing here without the fingerprints of each of you all over our lives.
From balancing irreverence and Godliness in the same DNA pattern, stepping into a role of Spiritual father that I didn’t even realize I was missing until you filled that chasm (ALAN)…
To being the most loving, serene and wise counsel walking along beside us, fortifying and supporting every parental decision we make and introducing the richest cast of characters we could ask for to act as older brothers and sisters (ALISON)…
To humoring every fretting worry and every mundane anecdote and walking more miles than I could count (for which my glutes thank you) and being the exact friend that I needed in the exact season I needed it. God blessed me with you before I even realized how much I needed you (ANN)…
To being a role model of a faithful husband, steadfast father, doting, patient and adoring grandfather full of humor, songs and stories (MR. DAVID)…
To embodying the mother I hope to be, laying the foundation of security and assurance and pride that any daughter could hope to feel reflected by her mother. For showing me the beauty and depth of what a mother-daughter relationship can look like and giving me the highest benchmark of strength, dignity and victory we could strive for (LITTLE)…
To each of you… thank you. Thank you for being beside us tonight. Thank you for allowing us to succeed… and to fail. Thank you for championing us and cherishing our precious girls.
As we dedicate Annablair to her Heavenly Father tonight and are reminded of the same dedication we made for Nora Beth, we want to adequately express our humility and gratitude for each of you. Every time we fall short, we know that you will be there to stand in the gaps for us.
Tonight we want to reaffirm our desire to raise these invaluable treasures in the same faith and integrity that we all share. We pledge to submit first and foremost to His plan and His design, putting the Kingdom before our preferences. We ask you to support us in that. To correct us when we misstep and to celebrate with us as we see His promises come to fruition. Thank you for giving of yourselves so tirelessly for the betterment of our family and for reminding our daughters that they are the result of mountains moving and ways being made.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.