Saturday, January 30, 2016
Sunday, January 24, 2016...Rowan's baptism day! So many of our family and friends, and even some of Rowan's Facebook followers, joined us for this glorious celebration. But, as promised, here are all the beautiful pictures and details for those of you who were unable to make it.
Rowan woke up so excited! He put on his swim trunks and his favorite "Boss your heart shirt" in memory of Chrissie (he said it showed he was giving his heart to Jesus that day), and we headed to Live The Life Church in San Antonio.
He chose this church because it was Jalene's church, and it's where he saw Jesus (hovering above her casket, smiling, at her celebration of life). He practically skipped into the church.
We arrived early, and found lots of our family and friends there waiting already. Everyone looked amazing, and they were all smiling and anxious to see Rowan on his special day.
The pastoral staff came and talked to Rowan, asking him how excited he was, explaining what would happen next, and seeing if he had any questions.
The church really started to fill up and was eventually standing room only. The excitement was bouncing off the walls!
And just before Rowan was about to be called up, he grabbed my hand and said "Feel this! My heart is pounding out of my chest, I'm so excited!"
Rowan was the first in the water and could not stop smiling...even though it was kind of cold:)
They asked him if he had anything to say to everyone there, and of course Rowan did...
He said "always trust in God and Jesus...and I brought extra towels in case anyone else wants to get baptized today too!"
Then the pastor asked Rowan if he publicly professed Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and he said he did. He agreed to follow him all the days of his life...
And they baptized him in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
(Rowan had asked Jalene's Youth Pastor, Lisa, to be the one to dunk him. He said he knew he could trust her. Thank you Lisa!)
Rowan came up celebrating, arms raised to the sky!
The crowd went crazy! It looked like at least 3/4 of the church was recording the moment.
HERE IS VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE SPECIAL MOMENT (Thank you Briana:):
The following 3 photos were posted on Live the Life's Facebook page later that day, and they truly capture the joy of Rowan's baptism, and what it meant to everyone in that room.
I couldn't contain my tears, tears of sheer joy. I was so proud of Rowan for making this decision, so grateful to Live the Life for making it such a special day, and blessed beyond measure at the number of people who came out to share it all with us.
As if the service wasn't great enough already, during the sermon, the pastor called Rowan up, and used him to depict young David as he went to battle against Goliath. He even had Rowan read some of the scripture. What an honor.
After the service was over, lots of people came up to congratulate Rowan.
And then the staff brought him a sharpie and asked if he wanted to autograph the baptismal trough. He signed his name and the date, front and center:)
The Guardians of the Children were waiting for Rowan outside with a big surprise. They placed him a top one of the bikes, gave him a GOC teddy bear, let him borrow someones sunglasses and bandana, and took some awesome group photos with him. Pretty cool!
Then we all headed to the park for a reception. We had chili with fixins, fruit, cake and drinks ready to enjoy. It was an absolutely beautiful day outside, a perfect day to celebrate with friends, swing on the swings, and enjoy some sunshine. Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us.
The Guardians of the Children had yet another surprise for Rowan, at the park. They presented him with a framed, blown up photograph of them all...the one that was taken with him on the bike, out in front of the church less than an hour before! We were so amazed. I didn't know how they got it done so quickly. And that wasn't all! Sweet Briana had also made a scrapbook for Rowan, which included photos from over the past year, when they have visited him in the hospital, as well as pictures from his baptism! Unbelievable how quickly she printed and added those priceless moments from the morning. Rowan will cherish this album forever!
I told Rowan to thank everyone, and encouraged him to tell them what he told me as we left the church earlier. He told them, "I said that I was definitely going to build a time machine now, because I want to go back and live this day again and again, and get baptized over and over."
I wish I could relive this glorious day too Rowan. The joy on your face, the pounding of your heart, the hundreds of voices worshiping together, your arms raised to God coming out of that water, the circle of love and support that our friends, family and even strangers surrounded us with...it was perfect.
* I also wanted to mention, that when we left the baptism service, Rowan told me. "Mom, I know nobody used my extra towels, but I feel like a lot of them were thinking about it, and some of them are going to decide to soon." He said he wasn't disappointed at all, that they didn't decide to right there on the spot, because he could still feel God working in the room. Well, later that afternoon, when Pastor Lisa made it to the end of the party at the park (after second service), I told her all of that. She smiled and said, it happened, Rowan just didn't get to see it. People actually did line up afterward and signed up for the next baptism Sunday, or stayed for the second service, where they had multiple add-on baptisms. And, she told me that several teens said they wanted to take the next step towards baptism too. Rowan had been right. They may not have used his extra towels, but God did work on people's hearts that morning, and other people did decide to get baptized too!*
The day could not have been better. But, as many of you heard, the next 24 hours brought serious attacks to our family, specifically Rowan. That evening his g-tube got accidentally ripped from his stomach. It is a special non-balloon device so this was pretty traumatic. Despite the pain, Rowan still claimed "It's still the best day ever!"
Then, early the next morning, Rowan had a very bad grand mal seizure that led to serious respiratory distress. He turned blue, his sats dropped, and he could not breathe. His home nurse and I had to ambu bag him for 15 minutes until the ambulance arrived.
He was taken to the hospital, given ativan and a depakote bolus to prevent further seizures, had surgery to replace the feeding tube, and was kept overnight for observation.
As scary as this was, it still did not get him down. Rowan woke up at the hospital saying "Devil you have no place here. You will not steal my joy. Not today!"
He remembered someone from the church telling him moments before he went in the water, "Just because you get baptized, it doesn't mean life gets suddenly perfect." He had warned him, sometimes it actually gets more difficult for a while, but you have to remain faithful. Rowan knew his faith was being tested. And he was not wavering! So proud of this boy.
Thank you to everyone who came to the baptism and/or the reception; thank you to those who helped with food, set up or clean up; thank you to all those who couldn't come who sent their best wishes; thank you to everyone who has prayed for my son; and thank you for all of the beautiful cards, gift cards, checks, and special gifts. Look at these amazing gifts!
(If anyone knows who the Star Wars blanket and toys were from, please let me know...the card wasn't signed:)
(Dad even made sure to pick up the daily newspaper that morning, so Rowan could always remember this special day.)
The most important gift of all though, is the gift of the love and support that you all have shown Rowan! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Praying that you all love your life too, and that you trust God with it all...the good and the bad!