Raisin’ In Minnesota:
On Churches, Baptisms, And Big Decisions

Having church up in here?

My youngest daughter is five. She is the epitome of curiosity. She often stumps me with rather well thought out questions that send me to Google. “Mama? Mama? Mommy? MA?” “Yes, Hayden,”  “Grapes are berries right?” I pause because I have no clue. I whip out the iPad and Google it. I’ll be darned, she’s right! “Yes honey grapes are berries. They come from a single ovum, the definition of a berry, so you are right. “I thought so” and away she goes, happy with her superior fruit knowledge.

So imagine my surprise when she asks me, “Where are my photos in a white dress as a baby?” She had found her sisters baptism photos; Google was not going to help me out of this one. I explained that those were Jenna’s baptism photos. She quickly responded asking about baptism? I explained it was a ceremony that made you a part of God’s family.  Certain churches believed in baptizing babies and some wait until children are old enough to understand the meaning of baptism. I also explained that I had no pictures of her baptism because she had not been baptized yet.  The look on her face was priceless. To say that it shamed me puts it mildly.

My mother was in my home on hospice care when Hayden was a baby. She was very ill and there were a ton of things to do to care for her to keep her comfortable and moving her belongings from her home in Ohio to a storage unit in Minnesota. No excuse.  It was just put a real crimp in my plans to introduce Hayden to God in the way I had my older daughter. That period in our lives highlighted a more difficult decision. Where was my church home in Minnesota? Even for my mother’s funeral, I’d had to search out a church for her here since this is where she is buried. She became a Baptist later in her life and I found a Baptist church that would allow us to have her service there.

We grew up AME (African Methodist Episcopal) and I was baptized as a baby. So, I baptized my oldest AME. Hard to find an AME church up here but I did! Needless to say, it didn’t feel right. I’m not saying God wasn’t there but the Holy Ghost was not confirming it as our church home. I didn’t do too much searching after that because I couldn’t decide which side of the road my family was supposed to feel comfortable on. You know what I mean, black church or white church? Sunday morning really is the most segregated hour in America. Our happy blended family had agreed that we loved God; we believed we wanted our children to know God; we just didn’t know which version of worship suited us all.

“Mama? Mama? Mommy? MA?” “Yes, Hayden,” “Jenna’s a part of God’s family and I’m not!” “Well calm down, Sweetie.” (Think fast mom) “you are covered by Mommy and Daddy’s baptism until you are baptized.” (I know I freelanced a bit but I needed to buy time.) So now, I needed to commit. I asked Hayden, do you want to be baptized? She said yes. I asked where she wanted to be baptized and she said, “In my church, where I went to school, where else would I want to be baptized, Silly Mama!”

So we are Lutheran’s now because apparently my child claimed our church for us. Dad and I have been attending all of her preschool functions and they had chapel at preschool with the pastors so she considered them her pastors. So Oct. 28 we will be confirmed as members of Augustana Lutheran Church, in West Saint Paul, Mn. Then, Sunday, Nov. 4, Hayden will be baptized in our new church. My mother-in-law will be on hand for the grandmother photo, and Hayden will have her album. I have to admit, I’m glad one of us was paying attention to where our church home should be, so what if she’s five?  Whoever said “Out of the mouths of babes” was not kidding! Oh that’s right. It was Jesus.

Have your children stumped you with their questions? Have they caused you to align your actions with your intentions?

More from GEM

Raisin’ In Minnesota: He’s No Grandpa – He’s My Dad

Tandem Tantrums: Blending A Family

Our Story Begins: But Dad, Just LISTEN!

Hillery Smith Shay, is a proven leader in Visual Communications and New Media Marketing. She holds a MBA, from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Haverford College. Shay is an award-winning photographer who has worked for the Associated Press and various newspapers. Hillery resides in West Saint Paul with her husband Jeff and their daughters Jenna and Hayden. She is also the proud stepmother of Erin, Ginger and Jack. Read more about her at hilleryshay.com and follow her Twitter @crazphotochick.