Monday, August 27, 2012

No Greater Joy...

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
- 3 John 1:4

On Sunday, July 29, Ellie was baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg, Florida - the same church where Eric and I were married five years ago. We wanted to have her baptized in Florida so that all of our families could be in attendance, and the day ended up being so wonderful that I know that was a perfect choice.

The day started out kind of hectic. We had been up late the night before, preparing my dad's house for the post-baptism party. Then on Sunday morning, Ellie refused to go back to sleep after her early morning wake-up. We know from far too much experience that Ellie not going back to sleep after her early morning wake-up spells disaster (read: super grumpy, excessively meltdown-prone baby) for the rest of the day. Eric jumped to the rescue and put Ellie to sleep by bouncing on our exercise ball while I got ready for church, and then I took over with Ellie while he got ready. All that plus the arrival of out-of-town family members at the house (and all the hellos and such that come with that) meant we left for the church a bit later than we planned.

Getting Ellie dressed was a task in and of itself. She wore a family heirloom gown that has been in my family for over 60 years. It was worn by my mother and her siblings, I wore it and so did my sister and cousins, and now Ellie has worn it. It consists of a silky slip, followed by a starched half-slip that has to be secured by safety pins, and then finally the top layer is the beautiful white eyelet gown. She also wore a gorgeous white eyelet bonnet that, although brand new, was a perfect match to the vintage gown. She completed the ensemble with pink ballet shoes.

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, all photos in this post are courtesy of the wonderful Jason Angelini Photography!)

Ellie's baptism gown

Her sweet little pink shoes

The gown and bonnet

Because I didn't want to stuff the very delicate gown into her car seat if I could help it, I dressed her in her slip and shoes at the house and then we finished things off with the eyelet layer and her bonnet when we arrived at the church. 

Trinity Lutheran Church on a beautiful Sunday morning in July

We arrived at the church a few minutes after the service was supposed to start, but I am positive they actually got started a few minutes early. The baptism was the first thing after the opening hymn, so as soon as we arrived we rushed down to the front pew just in the nick of time. Actually, as soon as we sat down they called us to the front, but my sister (Ellie's godmother!) had driven separately and had not yet arrived! As we were walking up to the front I saw her coming in from the back of the church and was frantically motioning for her to hurry to join us. All this drama, all thanks to a baby trying to refuse a morning nap, am I right? I felt so terrible that we were late. But hey, if I know anything about Ellie, I know that she likes to make a leisurely-yet-dramatic entrance!

Eric carrying our baptism baby into the church at the very last minute

Heather! Hurry up!

When we were all present and accounted for, Eric, Ellie and I were joined at the baptismal font by Ellie's godparents: our good friend Jeff (who so wonderfully flew down from Washington D.C. for the occasion!) and my sister Heather.

Love Ellie looking right at the camera. The girl is a ham, what can I say?

And so the baptism ceremony was under way. Ellie did a fantastic job - she didn't mind the water at all (I didn't think she would; the girl loves a bath), and only fussed slightly when the Pastor put his hand on her head. Otherwise, she hung out, chatted a bit, and just looked around. She also looked so beautiful in her gown, although the silky underneath layers sure did make her slippery!

Inside the church

The bulletin

Ellie being baptized

Marked with the Cross of Christ

Ellie was very interested in the flame on her baptism candle!

Her baptismal cloth and cross

It all went so fast and was very surreal. I could hardly believe I was standing in a church, the same church where I was married just a few years ago, baptizing my daughter.

Because it did go so fast, I was very thankful that my mom recorded it on video. If you're interested, you can watch the whole five-minute baptism below.

VIDEO: Ellie's baptism

After the baptism we took our seats again, where Ellie proceeded to "talk" through an entire responsive reading. We will definitely have to work with her on appropriate church conduct later, but for now we all just found it very funny and very cute.

Family at church

The talking soon turned to fussing, however, as our "I Must Be Constantly Entertained" baby grew tired of sitting in the same old pew with the same old toys. So, she spent most of the rest of the service walking around with her daddy.

Ellie in Daddy's arms

Kisses from her Nonnie

Greeting family during the sharing of the peace

Sleepy girl

At the end of the service, we led the recessional out of the church and stayed in the narthex to greet people as they exited.

The end of the service - well done, Ellie!

After the church cleared out, we did some portraits with Ellie and the Pastor, her grandparents, her parents and her godparents.

With Pastor Tom

Ellie and her grandparents

Ellie and her godparents

Ellie with her proud parents!

Although she was getting tired, Ellie really hung in there, and even gave us some smiles!

My doll.

As soon as we got in the car, however, she crashed.

So much excitement for one morning!
(personal iPhone photo)

Back at the house, it was party time! All of our preparations came together quite nicely. For decor, we used streamers and fun tissue circle things in the trees outside. Inside, I printed out Bible verses and placed them around the house with pictures of Ellie. There was also a set-up on the desk in the family room with more pictures of Ellie, a photo album of pictures of me as a baby (including pictures of me in the same baptism gown), and the book I made of my pregnancy and birth story blog posts. I also made a "God Bless Ellie" banner to hang in the doorway. We had Sonny's BBQ for lunch and a cake from Publix, plus brownies and fruit salad. Everything was perfect.

Details of the reception

We took a few more portraits of Ellie before she changed out of the baptism gown and into her party dress. She was pretty tired and hungry by that point, so she wasn't super excited about this plan, but she sure did look gorgeous in that gown and bonnet so I am glad we got a few more portraits of her.

Pretty girl

Left: Momentarily distracted from her dissatisfaction by the possibility of eating her gown
Right: Never mind. Gown-eating aside, now she's just mad.

For the party, Ellie wore a short white dress with eyelet trim, white Mary Janes and a white flower headband. I must say, she looked pretty cute.

Kisses from Daddy


The party was very laid-back. We didn't have much of an agenda, just eat and relax and have a good time. At one point Eric gave a very nice speech to thank everyone for coming, and we cut and served the cake.

Eric thanking our guests

Cutting the cake

It was just so nice to have our friends and family over to celebrate our baby girl. I'm so glad that we had the opportunity to do this in Florida, and that so many people made the effort to be there - both our Florida friends and relatives, and also all the out-of-state people who made the trip. We felt so blessed to have everyone there to celebrate with us. Ellie is so lucky to have so many people that love her so much!

Friends and family at Ellie's party

By the end of the party, the Girl of Honor was officially wiped out.

Cuddled up with Auntie/Godmother Heather for a little nap
(personal photo)

It really was a great day. Thanks again to everyone who helped make it so wonderful for Ellie and for us. We are so blessed that God has entrusted this beautiful gift to us, our sweet baby girl. It meant the world to us to give her back to Him and to have so many loved ones there to share the day! We all love you, dear Ellie!

Our Elizabeth Alice

Jesus, Gentle Shepherd,
Keep this child close by your side;
Let your light be her companion
And your love her constant guide.
Hold her hand throughout life's journey,
Be her friend and guardian too;
Teach her well and bless her always
As she follows after You.


Lauren said...

These pictures are just beautiful Meghan! Jason once again captured such a special memory for your family :-) Love her Baptism dress and that is was passed down :-)

Jessica Renee said...

What a beautiful day!! Ellie and all the pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

Jessica said...

What a great day! She looked like an angel!

Becky said...

Beautiful, Meghan. What a lovely day it was! I love the poem you included at the end. Ellie is so blessed to have parents like you and Eric!

arturor17 said...