Nine times twenty-one equals Jesus, because Jesus is the answer for everything.
Archives For Elaina
I have seen hundreds of water baptisms in my lifetime. I have spent just about every Sunday morning for the last forty years of my life in church services. Over those years my favorite baptisms were the ones where the pastors were able to baptize their own kids. At our last church, parents were encouraged to baptize their own kids, so when Lydia and Jessica decided to be baptized I took advantage of the opportunity and baptized them both. It was a great experience for us all.
A couple of months ago Elaina told me she was interested in being baptized. She is such a daddy’s girl that I knew she would agree to let me baptize her. Since joining our current church about four years ago, I haven’t seen anyone besides our pastoral staff baptize anyone. I approached the leadership team and got permission to baptize Elaina.
I don’t usually get very nervous, but last Sunday we were both pretty nervous as we sat through the quick baptism class during Sunday school. There was a pretty small group of us in the class. Pastor Barry went through all the instructions. He explained what the baptizer would say and what the baptizee was supposed to say in response. We then went on a tour of the baptismal in the main auditorium.
Our church does the baptisms half way through the worship service, so we were instructed to find our way to the baptismal at the start of worship. Once the music began, Elaina and I made our way behind the stage. Everyone was engaged in nervous chatter. Our youth leader, Pastor Brandon, would be performing all the baptisms so he kept us engaged in small talk. Elaina was noticeably nervous, so I rehearsed all the movements and our lines with her. We were third in line, and when Pastor Brandon announced us as a tandem I moved into the baptismal first and announced her. The lights were bright but low enough for us to see the thousand, or so, people in the auditorium. It was a little overwhelming, but we were ready.
“Good morning,” I started, “this is my daughter, Elaina Dibben. I had the pleasure of baptizing our two older daughters, so I wanted to baptize Elaina as well.”
Elaina moved down into the warm water with me, and I turned her towards the audience and motioned towards them with my left hand.
“Elaina, before God and these witnesses, do you publicly profess Jesus Christ as your Lord And Savior?”
“Yes,” she said so loudly we got a few giggles from the crowd!
I helped her rotate to the left into the traditional baptizing position. She lifted her left hand to her nose; I placed my right hand behind her back and put my left hand over her nose to help keep it closed. She turned her head to look at me, I made eye contact with her and continued.
“Elaina, upon your profession of faith I now baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
We made eye contact, she smiled at me, and I lowered her backwards into the water. She closed her eyes just as the water rushed over her face. As I raised her back into a standing position Amanda Lapore took this photo.
I don’t even remember who baptized me. I barely remember where I was baptized. A baptism needs to be more memorable, and I can’t think of a more memorable way than to have your own dad baptize you. I would love to make this more common in our church. I want to see more fathers step up and baptize their children.
Elaina and I will certainly make a lot more great memories together. I don’t expect very many of them will be as memorable as December 29, 2013.
Julie: “When was the last time you took a shower?”
Julie: “The baptism doesn’t count.”
She sits quietly on the sofa. Her legs are crossed with her left leg over the top of her right. She reminds me of a business woman reading the newspaper while sitting on a park bench. Every few seconds her left leg swings up in a slight kicking motion. It’s a very rhythmic movement, yet I don’t think she is aware she is doing it. She’s reading one of the books from her book club. She reads a lot, but I can tell she is patiently waiting.
She only reads to occupy her time. She’s really just waiting on me. Waiting for me to invite her to watch a little Doctor Who. It’s her favorite show, although she refuses to watch it alone. She would rather watch it with me. Every few days she walks up to me and asks, “Can we watch some Doctor Who soon?” I always say, “Yes, we will watch some Doctor Who soon.” She smiles back at me, nods her head and goes back to whatever she is doing. Today she’s reading.
There is always something else for me to do. Something else to take me away from my promise. Her older sisters push harder to get what they want, and for some reason they can make what they want sound so much more…necessary. So much more important. Elaina just makes her request in that low, relaxed tone that I am very comfortable with. Maybe I’m a little too comfortable.
Eventually, she will quit waiting.
Eventually, she will quit asking.
I return to the living room where she is sitting. “Let’s go watch a couple episodes of Doctor Who,” I invite her. Without making a sound she calmly places her book on the sofa beside her, rises to meet me, and I escort her to mom and dad’s room where we lose ourselves to a few hours of entertainment.
I’m teaching this amazing series in my new parenting Sunday school class.
This coming Sunday I will be teaching on the importance of making the transition from “Size and Position” parenting to “Relationship” parenting. We spend the majority of our kid’s lives in a “Size and Position” place of authority. Our kids do as we say because we are bigger, and we are the boss. Eventually, this type of parenting loses its effectiveness. Eventually, our kids get to the size where we can’t leverage our position or our authority anymore.
Lydia is fifteen and Jessica is fourteen. It took me a couple of years to realize that trying to leverage my position and authority was failing. I was convinced that if I pushed out my chest, and raised my voice high enough, I could get my children to behave.
It was around this time last year that I discovered the flaw in this thinking. I got into a disagreement with one of my daughters on the way to school. In my frustration and anger I told her to get out of my car. She refused my demands. I got out of the car, walked around to her side of the vehicle and attempted to remove her. I was completely unable to make my child do anything. I will never forget that day. It remains a powerful reminder that I won’t always be able to influence my daughters by leveraging my position or size.
I have two daughters who are teens, one daughter who is a year from being a teen and a fourth daughter who is only three years away. These are the years where my influence will be needed more than ever. For the next five to eight years all four of my daughters will be making some of the biggest decisions of their lives. They will begin to explore relationships. They will choose careers. They will begin to examine their faith at a deeper level. I want to maintain influence so I can guide them through the challenges that lay before them.
Navigating these teen years has been no easy task. Their desire for more autonomy scares me, because I’m afraid they will make poor decisions. I want to step in and force them to make good decisions. That’s my years of “Size and Position” parenting trying to break through, and I need to fight off that desire. Anyone can sling rules and guilt trips at their kids. Teens just don’t respond to “I’m the boss and you’re the kid” parenting.
The teen years aren’t about managing them anymore. It’s more about understanding the woman who is trying to surface. Hanging in the balance is either a man who is on the outside looking in, or a father who has earned a place of influence in his daughter’s heart, because he has built a relationship with her.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to start running to get into better shape. You can read more about that HERE.
Anyway, a few days into my new exercise routine we were on our way out of an elementary school function when Elaina asked me a question.
“Dad, can I go running with you in the morning?”
“Really, are you serious?”
“Sure, you can go if you want.”
Anjelia jumps into the conversation: “Dad, can I go running with you guys too? I’m real fast! Watch!”
Without a moment’s hesitation she sprinted about 50 yards as fast as she could.
“See how fast I am, dad? I’m fast enough to go with you in the morning, aren’t I?”
“You sure are fast enough, Anjelia!”
That evening before turning out their lights I asked them again if they were both serious about running with me.
“Five AM comes really early. Are you two sure you want to go running with me?”
They both nodded eagerly.
“I’ll get you both up at five but you only have ten minutes to get dressed and ready before we hit the door.”
“Dad, will we have time to get something to eat?” Anjelia asked.
“You can grab a cheese stick to eat before we walk out the door.”
The next morning I went in to wake them up. Anjelia sprung out of her bed and was ready to leave in just five minutes. I snapped the photo above just as we were about to walk out the door. While we were doing our brisk-walk warm-up I explained to them both that I was in the middle of trying to get into shape.
“Currently, my training is really simple. We are going to walk for sixty seconds alternating with jogging for ninety seconds.”
I was afraid Anjelia would run out of juice, so I gave Elaina some instructions.
“Elaina, if Anjelia gets tired you need to hang back with her while I finish my route. I’m here to get into shape.”
Elaina nodded in understanding and we began running per the voice instructions on the app I am using.
The route I am taking is just under two miles. Both girls did great but at about the halfway point Anjelia started complaining of some abdominal discomfort. During the walking minutes I questioned her to make sure she was okay. She nodded that she could make it, so we kept going. I again explained Elaina’s instructions to her and she agreed.
At the three-quarter point Anjelia started getting very uncomfortable and had to quit running. I could actually see our house at this point, so I reminded Elaina to hang back with Anjelia so I could finish the run, but once I got about a hundred feet from the two of them I could tell I was ruining things by leaving them both behind. I turned around and went back to them. Anjelia was crying and Elaina was holding her hand. Anjelia was so sad that she wasn’t able to keep up. I offered her my hand, she wiped the tears from her eyes, and we finished the final five hundred feet together.
I didn’t get the exact level of exercise and training I had planned. What I did get was thirty minutes of special time with two girls who think I’m the best dad ever.
It was the best morning ever.
Elaina: “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?”
Julie: “I’m wiser than a fifth grader.”
James: “I didn’t even kiss other girls before your mom and I met. I was saving myself.”
Elaina: “From what?”
It’s lonely being a Sci-Fi fan at my house.
I’m not talking about Lord of the Rings or any of the recent Marvel comic movies. I’m talking about the stuff only a real geek like myself would enjoy. A real Sci-Fi geek likes less main stream entertainment. Doctor Who, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Godzilla, Gamera and so on.
While looking over the Sci-Fi movies coming out next year I realized how many of them I may end up missing on the big screen. 2012 had several of them that I never was able to go see. Some because I couldn’t make the time and some because no one would go see it with me.
Last week I noticed that a new Superman movie will be coming out next summer. Elaina absolutely loves Superman. After the last one came out we purchased it for her the following Christmas. She almost completely wore out that disk, if such a thing is possible. She watched it daily for weeks.
Last night I took a minute to show the most recent Man of Steel trailer to her. I asked her if she was interested in going to see it with me. She answered in the affirmative.
A couple of minutes later I lamented: “I sure wish I had someone to watch all these cool Sci-Fi movies with me next year.” Elaina reached over, grabbed my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “Daddy, I’ll be that someone.”
My brain is good at remembering stuff unless it’s from my childhood.