08.01.10: Pressed Down, Shaken & Poured Out In Abundance

If you would like to see more of my photos from the baptism head over to Flickr. 

There was an abundant list of titles that I could have named this post, but the truth is...none would be more true that the one it was assigned: Pressed Down, Shaken and Poured Out In Abundance. So many things to tell you about & so many photos to share that will help explain why it was a bounty-full day. 
Pressed Down...two of my very loving friends held me accountable and asked why I had not returned their phone calls this week. Accountability can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes. Not because I don’t need it, but because I realize that there will be a few people in my life that I simply can’t straight out fool. (That didn't come out right...) They bring me to a place of honesty. I had briefly thought about an "excuse" to give (cause there really is no other word for it) but in the end my words flowed from a soul needing to bear itself and admit that when I feel pressed in by my circumstances, I run and hide. It's the absolute opposite to what God calls us to do in that situation, but...this is me we're talking about. So when I couldn’t hold my disbelief and sadness in any longer, those tears were met with hugs and loving words of support & encouragement. 

Shaken...I got one of the best hugs from my “You hug JUST like my mom” friend. She asked just the “right” question that brought forth a lot of tears. Each tear was met by loving hands dabbing them away and providing a real life story about a woman whose life I felt like I was experiencing....with a happy ending! Our last hug felt as though God did it Himself...I was shaken.
Poured Out In Abundance...Today was a Baptism ceremony. It is simply one of my MOST favorite services. It is a chance to see people who have been changed by Love. God’s Love - poured out in abundance into their lives to the point that they feel led to publicly proclaim “I am are mine!!!!”. 

I cry. 
I cry from beginning to end. 
From the first child to the last child, I cry. 
I cry a lot. 
I cry from a place of absolute joy and excitement to see the God that I serve, is the living God who still works in the lives of people today. It’s life affirming beyond measure.
Jeff, my pastor always takes a few moments to remind us why Baptism is still a necessary and relevant part of a Christians life. 
  • It’s an outward act...for an inward truth. 
  • It’s possible...because Jesus made a way by His substitutional death for a sin debt that we could never pay. We become marked as “PAID IN FULL”.
  • It is the pleasure of our Father to see his Son or Daughter turn towards him with their whole heart. He delights in their decision.
  • It is our acceptance into a family and community of believers. We become a Son or Daughter of the Living God. We are to become the tangible, visible, audible feeling of God. Tall order...awesome God. 
Before I post these pictures, I have to take a moment and quote Michelle Perry one more time. The act of Baptism, to me, is a most wondrous example of what pure joy I think our Father takes in the moment of our water baptism.
The imagery I most relate it to is found in Revelations 4:8. It says..

"Day after day and night after night they (his angels) keep on saying, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.' ".  

And from that verse, to borrow Michelle's imagery, in the moments of true worship like in a water baptism “I bet He silences the angels to hear true worship rise up...” That thought makes my heart skip a beat!!
Maybe that is why I cry so much...because in those moments I know God is among us. I  believe that when they come up from the water, that God is one of His children’s “loudest cheerleaders” to see his Son or Daughter rise in His glory and become part of His family. It’s the moment when His will is being done “on Earth just as it is in Heaven”...enjoy a small glimpse of it...

(The captions are below each photo)

This was a unique moment in the service - and be warned I'm just about going to say that with every photo. 

When Jeff brought up each person up he would ask them questions to confirm what it meant to be baptized. With this young man he asked a couple of questions, but then he just started to pray for him. He didn't do this with any other person - it was just sort of spontaneous. The feeling of the moment and prayer (I think) was that this young man is going to be a leader in his school this year. He needs to be a leader on and off the field, and so that's what I heard Jeff speak over him. What an amazing thing to have your pastor see something in your life that you may not see...or believe in yourself!!

This young woman made us laugh in the way she answered Jeff's questions. You can slightly see the smile on his face and her smile is priceless. When asked 'do you believe (insert baptism statements here)' her answer was simple and her delivery was perfect..."Well...yeah" as if to say..."Duh and let's get on with this". She rocked. 

Know what I love about this photo? Check out his mom and dad in the background. It was a subtle thing that I didn't notice until I downloaded the photo. They are clinging to each other in the moment before their son is baptized. That sounds kind of dramatic, doesn't it? Well I can't imagine that feeling....when your child comes to you to discuss being baptized and what that means to him??? WOW!! His mom's face speaks volumes of thanks to a loving God who became so very real to her son. God is, so good!!

This young husband and wife pushed me over the edge with the crying...cause ya'll know this blog is ALL about me...ok Caryn, get over yourself. 

I'm paraphrasing her words, but here is the genuine sentiment: I wanted to become a Christian for so husband, without pushing me and showing me by just living his life and loving me, brought me to God. I think for those of us who didn't know their story, you could have heard a collective jaw drop. 

It was simply one of the most sweet and intimate moments to share with a whole lotta people. What a privilege for us!! Their sweet smiles just make my heart sing. And to be able to say that your husband baptized you?? Wow...what a moment to cherish.

Ok, water-works moment two. The woman being baptized (in the pink) is a friend of one of our singers, so when it was her turn, her friend came down to share her story with us

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is for people to hear how God works in every day life - so our faith can be built up that HE IS ALIVE!!! 

This moment boiled down to her friend sharing her faith...whenever and wherever. The group of women surrounding her were from a group they formed AT WORK to  talk about God...AT WORK. Where God was present there had to have been no fear to lovingly say to her friend "What does God mean to you and what about your relationship with Him?" That step in faith helped to bring this woman to the moment of realizing that she needed to be baptized!!  So in this photo she's holding her friends hands and I just thought it was such a sweet, sweet moment to be able to capture. 

Ok...this little cutie patootie was one of two youngin's that were dedicated today. I love the phrase "dedication". Jeff so lovingly says that God gives us a child, and we are to dedicate them back to the Lord asking for His guidance and presence in knowing how to raise them. That each person surrounding the child be held accountable for keeping her on a straight path. His prayer goes on to ask that from the time that she is born to the time she comes to know her true Father, is short. That she would learn to hear and follow Him in all that she is called to do in her life. That she rest in the fact that each day has been prepared for her before she was even conceived. You go girl...we can already tell she's going to be a heartbreaker!!

This was such a magical moment. 

When babies are dedicated, their parents bring them in front of the congregation with their siblings. Then their friends and family are asked to come and surround them. After that, friends of the congregation come to surround the family and friends. It's a wonderful picture of what a child's life should look like - everywhere they go and in all that they do, they are surrounded by people who love them and promise to God to help them walk in their faith. 

When the dedication begins Jeff will move close to the child and sometimes lay a hand on them while he prays over them. Well this little guy, about half way through, turns to look at Jeff and it looked like he was going to grab the microphone - so Jeff says "Oh, did you want to say something". But really the child was holding his arms out to be held by him. Jeff stopped for a moment to grab him and said "This doesn't happen a lot", then continued praying over him as he held him. Ok...everyone at the same time - Aawwwwwwwwwwwww!!! I say that jokingly, but it really was one of "those" moments. When I see that photo and know what happened leading up to that moment...could my heart melt ANY more???? 

Ok, this one was special too. The guy on the far left is Ryan. He's our Youth Pastor. He and his wife Stephanie serve as this dynamic team who can reach and speak into the lives of young people like I have never seen before. The young man being baptized just segwayed from the kids program to the youth this year and he gets to be "dunked" by his youth pastor!! I'm not sure who has the bigger honor here - what a unique baptism!!

Welcome to the world of one. I keep saying this, but...what's unique about THIS baptism...was the fact that dad went first! His kids kept shouting "It's about time" and "Long overdue dad!!". 

Well, after dad's moment, he got to baptize his two sons! Um, how cool is THAT??? Congratulations!!

These last couple are of some of the younger kids....

This young ladies smile...will forever be burned into my mind. I think it reflects that fine line between "knowing something" and "mischief". She's going to be a force to be reckoned with that's for sure, when she flashes that smile!!

This was my belly laugh for the day - how priceless is his pose??? He ALMOST looks like he could turn blue and pass out if Jeff doesn't dunk him soon. LOVE IT!!

And here we have...a young lady who appears to be deep in thought about her decision. :) Too...too sweet for words. 

And here we have Goldilocks...beautiful young girl. She was actually the first one to be baptized today, and I have to admit that at moments like these, I wish I could see the Father's plan for her life. She had such a sweet spirit about her...ok if I'm being perfectly honest, I was a bit jealous of her long ringlet curly blonde hair too. 

I hope each of you had a wonderful Sunday evening - thanks for stopping by!!

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