For Katy, On Your Baptism

IMG_0342Dear Katy,

You are being baptized this Sunday.  Wow.  I come to this event with so many feelings.  Mom and I are so proud of you, but not just because you are being baptized.  We’re  grateful because we couldn’t have asked or planned a better journey to your decision.  You made this decision on your own – in your 8 year old way.

Mom and I feel we were baptized when we were 8 years old for not the best of reasons.  Other people were doing it.  We wanted to take the bread and grape juice at church.  We knew it would make others proud.  Because of this, we didn’t want to put any pressure on you.

With the reunions and camps we go to each summer, however, we knew you’d see others be baptized.  So, we began teaching you the things we wanted you to know if you asked about it.  We wanted you to know who Jesus was and what following him meant.  We talked to you about sitting in church more, and not going to the play room.  We told you, following Jesus meant being friends with some of the kids you didn’t like at school, or with those other kids picked on and didn’t have many friends.  Mom remembers one conversation with you when you began to cry, “But I can’t do that!  I don’t want to be _____’s friend!  He’s mean!”   In that moment, you realized following Jesus wasn’t easy to do.  It was too much for you.  Mom and I let it go.  Then, something happened at reunion this summer that changed things for you.

Mom and I will not forget that night in our little pop-up camper.  It brought tears to our eyes.  You and Kenzlee had been actively attending Kevin’s campfires at family camp all week.  You guys loved campfire.  One particular night, you came back from campfire and after brushing teeth came to bed.  Campfire was always the last thing you did at camp before bed.  That night, because I hadn’t seen you guys much that day, I asked what your favorite part of camp was that day.  You and Kenzlee answered right away, almost in unison.  “Campfire!”  Kevin Henrickson was doing a wonderful job with campfire that week.

Then, you began to tell us your simple testimony.

IMG_0467During campfire that night, you said felt something touch your heart.  You were singing songs, looking into the campfire, and you said, “I felt Jesus in my heart.”  You then blurted, “I just want to get baptized right now!”  Mom and I listened.  The feeling we felt with you in the silence after was hard to describe.  You just said, “I just felt Jesus in my heart.”  We knew it was special because when we taught you about Jesus, we didn’t talk about your relationship with Jesus in those terms.   We taught you the stories.  We shared our love for Jesus.   But, tonight, you felt something in a way that lit your face and changed your heart.  Mom and I were touched so deeply and in ways we didn’t expect.  We began to remember the first time we felt the Spirit, when we felt something bigger than ourselves in and around us.  We remembered what it was like to feel Jesus for the first time…to feel Jesus and his love in us.

After you were born, I remembered the nights I often prayed for you in college.  For some reason, I was worried about the future at that time in my life.  I prayed for you, the companion I had yet to meet, and the children I might have some day.  I prayed with such earnestness and would do so from time to time.  I remember, I prayed one thing more than anything else for my children – that they would have a relationship with God, the God I knew and changed my life.

I think you are on that road.  I can only praise the God of life and proclaim my belief that something, somewhere, profound, wonderful, real, and beyond all knowledge is present and real.  I call that God.  When that God is with us, it is Jesus.

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8 responses to “For Katy, On Your Baptism

  1. Holy Canoli, I’m ready to cry. Then again, when I’m moved by the spirit He tends to be overwhelming like that.
    God bless you Katy, yesterday today and always, you are loved!

  2. My heart goes out to you guys on this journey. There is a part of us that wants to control our children so they will grow up just the way we want them to, and another part of us that wants to push them out the door to experience life on their own terms. Shifting from the totally dependent state of infancy toward the independent state of adulthood seems to be as much about managing the slope of relational emphasis on control and freedom as anything else. What an amazing ride you and Margo are in for!

    Perhaps more importantly, your children see you and Margo striving to live out what you “preach” and teach. I vividly remember Angela (our oldest) at 4 years old as we were getting ready to go on our first bike ride as a family. We put helmets on her and Daniel and placed them in the Burley, then Becky put hers on. I’d been riding a bike my whole life, so I didn’t need one. Angela looked up at me and said “Daddy, you put helments on us because you love us, right?” I knew right where she was going, and decided at that moment I could not lie to her, and went out and bought a helmet the next day. She remembers that too, because she can continue to trust me.

    In your struggles, in your discipline, in your play time, in your talks, you and Margo are opening up the world a bit at a time to your children, letting them take control of their interaction with it bit by bit. And, you are showing them how to deal with pain and excitement and discovery and the realities of life. But it is your walk with Christ that they see in everything you do with eyes that we kind of forget how to look through.

    Take a moment and thank your bride for the life she lives for you and your kids, and then promise yourself you will continue to be the open and forthright person who has the responsibility to keep pulling the curtain back on the world and your relationship with your God. It is an amazing process of discovery for all of you. Your children are not only a blessing, but a stewardship, because you hold God’s dream for them in your daily walk with them. Keep the faith, man…

  3. Matt,

    Such a beautiful testimony. Mom (Mimi) and I are so proud of you and Margo…and so happy and proud of Katy. I remember the experience that I had when I decided that I wanted to follow Jesus. I remember the feeling that I had, not only in my heart, but from head to toe. We pray for each of you daily (Z too). We love you so much –

  4. Matt, what a beautiful letter to give to your daughter upon her Baptism! She is so lucky to have you and Margo for parents! You can see your love and spirit in her! Be proud!
    M ady

  5. May such special times grow ever more frequent as you watch your daughter grow and climb beyond you. (The latter is the best part!)

  6. I will always look to you and Margo and sources of inspiration and guidance when I have my children one day.

    Ive loved all the time we spent together when the girls were babies in Chicago. My mind was blown my one of my best friends in the history of my life was having children and I knew it was going to effect me personally witnessing it. Sadly I had to leave Chicago and the supreme irony that you arrived there after years of me being there. When we connected in Michigan after I got married, it was so special to have more good times this last year going out for breakfast as a group of friends with Katy and ZZ.

    Reading this dedication to your daughter Katy brings me back to when we all went to camp together in 1992. I remember VIVIDLY coming back from campfire and the feeling that remains with me. The times we drove to Denny’s and had our own fellowship over endless months and pots of coffee. My friendship with you reinforced what I knew I felt about Jesus Christ having found him through a near death experience on my own. I say all this about myself because I know how powerful those experiences were and what it meant to have you as a friend there to corroborate that relationship with Jesus because I knew I wasnt crazy experiencing all that I was with the friend I had in you and Derek Sonksen. I had church happening all the time I needed it in the two friends that I will always have.

    I see Katy has the budding of that relationship starting interpersonally which makes it so special and real… it gives me goose bumps. I reminds me all over again what makes our connection so real and special – timeless in fact… and who she stands to connect with in the world in her lifetime and how she will impact them like her Daddy did with me too. You and Margo are faith carrying freightliners and your children recognize how all encompassing that passion is in you both. I have confidence that they, will like water, will flow into the most dry hearts and influence them like their Mommy and Daddy do in the most loving of ways.

    GO KATY, GO GO GO!

  7. Wow, typos and grammar issues everywhere.. sorry Matt.. I worked late and got up late, saw this email and jumped into writing something all foggy.. I was really moved to say something immediately no matter how goofy its reading back to me.. I dont think Ive ever reversed the use of special and real, and real and special a sentence later like it was a separate thought let alone some record breaking long sentences with wrong commas here and there. I know you wont mind and know what I meant but..none the less.. im reading it back im laughing. Forgive my compulsion to write once more and qualify it as well..lol

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