Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lorelei & Gryffin's Baptism

Today Gryffin and Lorelei were baptized into the family of God.

This might go down as my favorite day ever. It was one of those glowing moments in time in which the world around us sparkled with the beautiful, the good and the true. Our family and friends surrounded us--grandparents, aunts, cousins, neighbors, a teacher, and our church--and in that first and second row of seats, there were a lot of wet eyes. The room was so thick with the Spirit that afterwards, our visiting family remarked how truly alive they felt in that room, touched and overwhelmed by the great and palpable presence of a loving God.
Cousin Kai & Gryffin
 Our neighbor Ava & Lorelei
 Mrs. Smith, Gryffin's 1st grade teacher (who happens to attend our church, RezDowntown). How special is it that she got to be there?! Gryffin wanted to set the date around whether she could attend, he loves her so much!
 Just us.
 Pastor Scott Chrostek officiated. He made the whole thing so special and meaningful. We're so grateful for our pastor. (Fun bit of synchronicity--Scott worked at Duke Chapel at the same time in which Lorelei, born at Duke, had her baby blessing in that chapel in 2006--we just didn't know him then!)
 In the Methodist Church, children are sprinkled to symbolize that they are being baptized into a family, a covenantal community. When they are older, they go through confirmation to affirm their baptisms and claim their faith as their own. In Lorelei & Gryffin's case, they're old enough to understand what baptism means, but now they too will go through confirmation with their peers.
 After the baptism, they are anointed with a cross of oil on their forehead.
 Gryffin's turn.

Gotta love that expression on G's face there.
 Then Pastor Scott walked them down the aisle of the church, asking the church to affirm that they will be a family to them and raise up these children as if they were their own.
Pastor Adam (from our church in Leawood, where I work) was there with us, too.
 A picture in front of our church with Pastor Scott.
 (Sun's a bit bright--beautiful days make for squinty eyes.)
 Aunt Jennie baked cupcakes for the celebration at our home. So sweet of her!
 Grammy Great gave the kids special cross necklaces as gifts. So grateful she was there!
Grammy & Bpop embroidered some crosses for them and gave them some precious little statues of kids kneeling in prayer.
 More family. 
 Our entry table was decorated for the occasion. I love these pictures so much, I might just have to keep it that way. See the beads draped over the shell...?
As gifts for the kids' baptisms, I made them these rosaries to practice prayer and also remember their Catholic heritage from Mark's side of the family. We use them sometimes for bedtime prayers.
Gryffin picked out his own beads (green--his favorite color), Lorelei picked out hers (blue--her favorite color; we also made one as a Christmas gift for grandma Barb), and I made another for myself and for Mark so we can pray together.
 Thank you, God, for your great love, for the blessings of friends and family, for your church, and for your promise of resurrection life symbolized in baptism.
Lorelei & Gryffin, I love you so!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

This blog's been sorely neglected this year, and certainly not for lack of content! But Christmas Day is a time set apart. Fleeting moments thick with love permeate this morning of surprise and wonder, and they beg to be captured here. Lorelei is 8. Gryffin is 6. There is both an ache and a joy in my heart, watching as they grow and change, but the magic, for now, still lingers.
They still hear the bell.
Welcome to our Casa Connelly Christmas.
 The calm before the chaos. Not a creature was stirring, not even a bunny.
At least, not downstairs.
 But upstairs, the kids in pajamas were waiting restlessly at top step, singing carols as per our tradition, waiting for the Christ Child to arrive.
(Here's Gryffin, pretending to be Baby Jesus.)
 "Jingle Bells, Batman smells…"
 Waiting… how long will the manger remain empty?
 It's time!
Jesus' arrival signaled the end of caroling and the mad dash downstairs!

 It was all Legos for Gryffin, American Girl Doll for Lorelei.
Let's take in the joy on their faces, shall we?

 Gryffin's favorite present… Lego Ninjago.

 Lorelei's big present… a new outfit and hair extensions for Rebecca.
… and matching pajamas from Santa.
 Love them so!

 They're way into rocks and minerals this year. Pretty thrilled with stocking stuffers from the museum.

 And Mr. Dietrich Bonhoepper was not forgotten.
He looks like he had a rough night--Santa and the elves must have kept him up.
 Bunny's got his own stocking.

 I got lazy this year. Our traditional strata didn't sound good, so we went with a Trader Joe's pastry.
Looks like a baked octopus. I hear seafood's all the rage on Christmas morning in Europe.
 Mark got me a "Windy Loo-Poo" stocking stuffer by Poo-pourri. Nice.
 This is what happens when we try for a serious family pic.
 Merry Christmas 2014, and God bless us, everyone! 
(Now off to assemble some Lego starships…)