Turning 8 is something special in our family. Our beliefs teach us that when children are 8 years old, they are considered old enough to be baptized, and Julia made it very clear that that is a choice she wanted to make! I am so happy she made this choice because I, through experience, know what a tremendous source of strength and peace baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost can be. Yesterday we celebrated Julia's baptism with family and friends, and a celebration it was. The service was so different from Lara's: only one other child - Jacob - was being baptized, and so we were able to coordinate directly with the other family to ensure we each took equal part in the service, and made it a personal and unforgettable experience for our them. We got lucky with the other family too, they were so easy going and helpful and friendly!
The kids looked radiant in their spotless white clothes. Julia's baptismal dress was the same one that Lara wore, handmade by my mother. Then after the baptismal ordinance itself I dried her off and she got to wear a beautiful white dress that my mother bought for all the girls in our family to wear if they want to. Julia's biggest worry was the water being cold, but that fear was quickly taken away when she dipped a toe into the font and found the water "sooooo nice and warm!!". Jacob's mother gave a talk about baptism, and afterwards Lara and Jacob's older brother Samuel sang a beautiful song. Then I got to speak on the Holy Ghost. The people who gave the prayers and the opening and closing hymns were all picked by Julia and Jacob, and aunt Marissa was sweet enough to accompany everything on the piano.
After the service and ordinances were done, we went back to our house for the after party (basically lots of food). Julia got to open some presents, and play with her siblings and cousins in the pool. After everyone had left I asked her if she'd had a good day. Her reply: "It was the best day ever!". A big thank you to everyone who helped make this day so great.
There is a soft spot in my heart for Julia. I recognize so much of myself in her. In part that makes me very proud, and excited to see all the things she will do, but often it makes me worry about the challenges I expect she will have to face in life. Because I know some of her weaknesses and challenges so personally, I am determined to give her as many tools as I possibly can to help her face and overcome each and every one. I know without a doubt that the best tool I can possibly show her is a strong relationship with her Heavenly Father. To have her realize that she is His daughter. That He loves her more, and better than I ever will be able to. That He is always there for her, to strengthen, comfort, and guide her every step through life.